There is currently no proven treatment that can kill the measles virus; therefore, treatment focuses on providing relief of symptoms as the body fights the virus. This is called supportive care.
(Click Measles Treatment for a more in-depth look at how the symptoms are treated.)
Prognosis for MeaslesThe majority of people with the illness recover; however, 6 to 20 percent of the people who get the disease will develop a complication. Some of these complications can be very dangerous.
(Click Measles Prognosis for more information.)
Measles causes ear infections in nearly 1 out of every 10 children who get it. As many as 1 out of 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, and about 1 child in every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis. (This is an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions and leave your child deaf or mentally retarded.)
For every 1,000 children who get measles, 1 or 2 will die from it. The disease can also cause a pregnant woman to have a miscarriage, give birth prematurely, or have a low-birthweight baby.
PreventionPrior to 1963, almost everyone got measles; it was an expected life event. Each year in the United States, there were approximately 3 to 4 million cases, and an average of 450 deaths. Epidemic cycles occurred every 2 to 3 years. More than half the population had it by the time they were 6 years old, and 90 percent had the disease by the time they were 15 years old.
However, after the vaccine became available, the number of cases dropped by 99 percent, and the epidemic cycles diminished drastically. Therefore, the best prevention of measles is the vaccine.