February 11, 2015
Measles and Mouth
Measles outbreak has been in news lately. It all started in Disneyland with about 100 cases and it has now spread to Toronto with four reported cases.
In British Columbia, we are no strangers to measles. We experienced an outbreak of 400 cases in 2014, mostly in Chilliwack and Abbotsford.
Is Your Child Vaccinated?
Vaccination is the best way to protect your child from measles. One thing that I learned recently is that Roald Dahl lost his daughter to measles before vaccination was developed. Read Roald Dahl’s heartbreaking letter here.
Measles: Most Contagious Virus
Time magazine just published an article about the measles outbreak, declaring it is the most contagious virus. It is airborne and easily spreads through coughs and sneezes. If one person has it, 90% of people nearby who are not immune will get it.
Measles starts with fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then you start to see a red rash all over the body. The whole course usually lasts 2 weeks.
Measles is contagious from 4 days before the rash develops to 4 days after rash is gone. Stay home with your child well after the rash is gone.
Measles and Mouth
Even before the rash develops, the dentist can spot and diagnose measles. There will be Koplik’s Spots inside the mouth. They are red spots with blue-white centres. If you see these spots in the mouth, it is best to stay home for the next couple of weeks to prevent spreading measles to others.
Since measles is a viral infection, there is no specific medical treatment. Antibiotics only work for bacterial infection. Fluid and rest is the key to recovery. If your child has fever, give Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen). Do not give aspirin as it can cause Reye Syndrome.
Severe complications are very rare but can happen. They include dehydration due to diarrhea, pneumonia and encephalitis (brain inflammation).
Dr. Ella Choi is a certified specialist in pediatric dentistry serving South Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Aldergrove in Beautiful British Columbia.