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Med Monatsschr Pharm. 2009 Apr;32(4):118-26; quiz 127-8.


[Article in German]

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Measles are a systemic infectious disease caused by a single stranded ribonucleic acid virus (measles virus) from the paramyxovirus family. Typically, the disease is characterized by a two-phase course. After an average incubation period of 8 to 11 days, initial symptoms such as fever, cough, coryza and conjunctivitis appear. Two thirds of the patients shows a white-marked enanthema on the buccal mucosa (Koplik's spots). After disappearance of these symptoms, a second increase of temperature and the typical measles exanthema, a brownish-red maculopapular rash, appear. Infection with measles virus induces transient immunodeficiency that favours the formation of several complications. Some of them, e. g. encephalitic diseases, are severe and associated with a high mortality. Measles are world-wide distributed and belong to the ten most frequent infectious diseases in some less developed countries. The disease is associated with a high mortality in some African and South-East Asian countries, in particular in children aged less than 12 months. Of particular note, measles are the most important cause of blindness in children in population with borderline vitamin A status. In Germany, the number of reported measles cases has been declined dramatically since the introduction of a vaccine more than four decades ago. However, regional outbreaks or small epidemics still occur. Because there is no specific antiviral treatment, therapy of measles is symptomatic and depends on the manifestation of the disease. The most important prevention strategy is immunization with a life-attenuated vaccine that can be applied as monovaccination or in combination with mumps and rubella virus (MMR vaccination) or mumps, rubella and varicella virus (MMRV vaccination).

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