Measles, also called rubeola, is a virus borne respiratory infection that is potentially highly dangerous and easily spread by contact. Rubeola should not be confused with German measles (rubella), which is a different viral infection. Measles has become rare in the USA and Western Europe in recent years with children usually protected by vaccinations, but there are still an estimated twenty million cases around the world each year. Since it is a viral illness, there are no treatments. Infected children require plenty of bed rest. They need to drink sufficient fluids and stay quarantined as long as the measles remains contagious. The risks posed to adults who never had the illness in childhood is much more serious than the risks to children.
It is natural to assume that measles begins when its characteristic body rash appears, but the medical profession recognizes that it also has an initial stage without any obvious signs. They describe this as the incubator stage. It begins when the patient first catches the virus. It can last up to two weeks without any visible indications appearing. Although the patient remains asymptomatic, incubation phase has some medical relevance because whoever was in contact with this patient during these days is at high risk of becoming infected.
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