Remember getting measles in preschool? That was quite a horrible experience, wasn’t it? Measles, or Rubeola Virus, is a viral infection that starts in the respiratory system. Measles is one of the oldest diseases found in human history. During the mid-1700s, it evolved into a worldwide killer. Jumping forward to modern times, Maurice Hilleman introduced the MMR vaccine in 1971. Before this, stand-alone vaccines for measles, mumps, and Rubeola were already in use. Despite this, it is STILL one of the leading causes of death among children. This article provides you with everything you need to know about this deadly virus. We will cover the history, symptoms, and causes of Rubeola. Also, we will discuss the diagnosis and treatment, and prevention from the Rubeola Virus.
Rubeola Virus: History and Origin
As mentioned earlier, Rubeola virus is one of the most ancient diseases in the world. The first record comes from a Persian Doctor, Rhazes, during the 9th century. At that time, medicine was not so advance. Thus, it was hard to know the exact cause or treatment for the Rubeola Virus. During the 16th century, global explorations increased with the invention of large ships. With increased exposure, it developed into a global killer. In 1757, Francis Home discovered that the causes of Rubeola are small pathogens. He tried to make a vaccine but failed. With time, Rubeola virus began to grow into a global epidemic.
Vaccine for the Rubeola virus was discovered in 1916. After great struggle and experimentation, it became licensed for use in 1963. In almost 5 years, Rubeola cases dropped by 90%. At present, many countries have eliminated the disease once and for all. Yet, it is still one of the significant worries in the modern healthcare sector. In recent years, misconceptions about vaccines have significantly increased the cases as well.
Symptoms of Rubeola Virus
The early symptoms of Rubeola Virus appear 7 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms of Rubeola Virus include:
- High fever
- Runny nose
- Dry cough
- Swollen or inflamed eyes, or conjunctivitis.
- Runny and watery eyes
- Sensitivity to light, often a common symptom of high fever
- Generalized body ache
Besides these, small spots also develop inside of the mouth, cheeks, and throat. Doctors call these Koplik’s spots. They are tiny greyish-white spots with bluish-white centers. Other than this, the fever can range from mild to severe, up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, it can last for almost a week.
One of the hallmark symptoms of Rubeola is the Telltale rash. It is reddish-brown or red. It starts from the back of the ear and covers the head and neck. In time, it spreads throughout the whole body, including the legs. This can also last for almost a week.
Causes of Rubeola Virus
The Rubeola virus belongs to the paramyxovirus family. The virus that causes Rubeola is classified as Morbillivirus. It enters the body through the nose and mouth and lives in the mucus and cell lining of the throat and lungs. At the start, it infects the respiratory tract. Ultimately, it invades the bloodstream. From there, it spreads throughout the body. Rubeola Viruses are tiny parasitic microbes. Upon entering, it invades the host cells. In this way, it uses the cellular components and completes its life cycle.
A weak immune system is another major cause of Rubeola virus. People with AIDS, cancer, or similar diseases usually have weak immune systems. As a result, they have a higher risk of developing Rubeola. If you have already developed the disease, your body develops natural immunity to it. In this case, you’re safe. Rubeola virus is one of the most contagious viral infections. This is another reason why it spreads so quickly.
How it Spreads
Fortunately, the virus only infects humans. It cannot spread through animals or birds. Still, it is one of the most contagious viral infections. It can easily spread from one person to another. If you have never been vaccinated, you have a 90% chance of catching it if you are in a room with an infected person. It can spread through physical contact. Besides this, the virus is also airborne. This means it can spread through the cough or sneeze of an infected person. Lastly, avoid touching a surface, like spoons, or glass, of an infected person. This can also transfer the droplets of mucus and cause the infection to spread. That is why infected individuals are kept in strict isolation. The virus can spread 4 days before and after the development of the rash.
Diagnosis of Rubeola Virus
If you suspect that you have Rubeola, contact your doctor at once to start your diagnosis and treatment. The infection can be identified by looking at the symptoms. Koplik’s spots along with high fever are usually the first symptoms of Rubeola. Moreover, a simple blood test can confirm the presence of Rubeola virus in the body. The infected person stays in isolation until he/she completely recovers. In case it is a child, the school authorities are also informed accordingly.
Treatment of Rubeola Virus
Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for the Rubeola virus. As this is a viral infection, it cannot be treated with simple antibiotics. Normally, the virus disappears after 2 to 3 weeks of exposure. However, some interventions are available to lessen the symptoms and severity. MMR vaccine within 72 hours of exposure can prevent the infection. Besides this, a dose of immunoglobulin is given within 6 days. This increases immunity in the body that helps to fight the virus.
Besides that, doctors also recommend the following:
- Rest to improve the immune system
- Consuming lots of fluids and liquids
- Take Vitamin A supplements
- Use Ibrufen to calm the fever
- And Take Humidifier to relieve sore throat and cough
Our only weapon against the Rubeola virus is the MMR vaccine. Normally, babies are vaccinated within 12 to 15 months of their birth. After this, a booster shot follows at the age of 4 and 6 as well. According to the CDC, the main causes for the return of Rubeola in the 1980s were low vaccine coverages. This was because people thought that MMR vaccines caused autism in children. However, scientific research found no such evidence.
Adults can also get vaccinated if:
- They are born after 1956. People born before this year are assumed to be immune. This is because the majority of these people had developed the disease at least once in their lifetime.
- If you are a medical worker or a healthcare provider.
- If you are about to get pregnant. However, already pregnant women cannot take the vaccine.
Rubeola virus can be fatal for individuals who are:
- Children under 5 and adults over 20 years
- Individuals who have a weak immune system
- Pregnant women
- People who have Vitamin A deficiency
On top of that, Rubeola virus causes complications in almost 30% of the people it infects. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, or ear infection. Also, it causes pregnancy complications, diarrhea, or bronchitis as well. People allergic to gelatin or neomycin can show an allergic reaction from MMR shots. These individuals need to be careful and take extra preventions.
Here you are, folks. Rubeola virus is one of the oldest diseases in the world. Fortunately, we are living in the 21st century. Modern medicine has already developed a vaccine to fight this deadly virus. Despite this, the Rubeola virus is still a cause of great worry in the healthcare sector.
Rubeola is a highly contagious viral infection. The virus enters through the respiratory system. From there, it spreads throughout the body. Common symptoms include high fever and a brownish-red rash all over the body. Although preventable, it can cause death in worst-case scenarios. If you haven’t gotten yourself vaccinated, go to your nearest hospital and do so. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.