Because the majority of people with measles recover, the prognosis is typically fairly good; however, complications from measles can be dangerous. For every 1,000 children who get the disease, 1 or 2 will die from it. In Africa, the prognosis is more bleak -- measles is the leading cause of blindness among African children.
The majority of people with measles (rubeola) recover, but measles complications are dangerous. Six to 20 percent of the people who get the disease will develop a complication.
Measles complications are more common in children under 5 years of age and adults over 20 years of age. Measles complications can include:
- Respiratory conditions (croup, bronchitis, or bronchiolitis)
- Eye conditions (corneal ulceration, keratitis, or blindness)
- Ear infections (otitis media)
- Abdominal pain
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. Measles can also cause a pregnant woman to have a miscarriage, give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.
In developing countries, where malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency are common, measles has been known to kill as many as one out of four people. It is the leading cause of blindness among African children. Worldwide, measles kills almost 1 million children each year.