Measles: Origin, symptoms and impact

Measles dates back to the seventh century. Globally, it is considered a key cause of death among young children.

MOH urges vaccination with the increase of measles cases in Singapore
A vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and an information sheet is seen at Boston Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts Reuters

Britain is wary of the epicentre of measles this winter. Measles, the oldest form of infectious diseases that used to kill millions and lead to numerous infectious diseases, has usuaully affected the young children. Dating back to the 7th century, measlesd is a key cause of death among young children.

Measles is an exclusively contagious disease caused by a virus named rubeola virus. Before the introduction of measles vaccine in 1963, this viral disease had been widespread and killed closely 2.6 million across the globe, including Britain.

In 1968, Britain introduced the first measles vaccine and the number of deaths has slightly dropped down but reached zero. Still, measles is one of the leading causes of death among children. Even though a safe and effective vaccine is obtainable, there is no standard improvement in reducing the impact of measles.

Nearly 89,780 children were killed globally in 2016, marking it the lowest measles death rate compared to 100,000 recorded every year. Between 2000 and 2016, measles vaccination prevented 20.4 million deaths and making it one of the best vaccines. It is still the leading cause of death among children above 5 years.

However, accelerated vaccination activities have dramatically stalled 84% of global measles deaths.

Symptoms of Measles

The initial sign of measles is often a high fever, which starts about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus.

Other key symptoms of measles that patients exhibit contracting rubeola virus include:

Running nose/ common cold

Watery eyes

Dry coughing

Become sensitivity to light/ photophobia

Persistently sneezing

Swollen eyelids and inflamed eyes

Whole body aching

Appearance of reddish-brown rashes

Extended fever/prolonged fever

Koplik's spots

Severe diarrhoea


Respiratory infections, especially pneumonia

Several measles cases are found among children who are poorly nourished and have insufficient vitamin A in the body. Usually, the children become the victims of many other infectious diseases besides measles. Measles may also affect pregnant women and may end in miscarriage.

This article was first published on November 25, 2017