When you reach our age, most childhood diseases are simply a distant memory – that is, until the grandchildren start coming along.
Measles and German measles are names familiar to everyone. In general, people born before 1957 are likely to have had measles, mumps, and rubella during childhood and so are assumed to be immune. People born in or after 1957 should be immune to measles by having had one or more doses of MMR vaccine. However, despite this, measles and German measles do occasionally occur in adults and when that happens, the problems can be far more acute. So it is worth knowing a little about it all.
First, while both measles and German measles (rubella) share a common name, they are in fact quite different viruses.
Measles is caused by a virus that is spread by droplets. The virus is passed on through direct contact with someone who's infected, for example by touching or kissing them, or through breathing in contaminated air. It's fairly easy to catch if you haven't been vaccinated and come into contact with someone who has the infection.
Symptoms can take up to 10 or more days to develop after exposure to the virus (the incubation period). Early symptoms are like a cold, with possibly a runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis and fever.
However, the disease is usually quickly over, lasting only a few days.
For adults, the usual treatment for both measles and German measles is to alleviate the symptoms, drink plenty of fluids and rest.
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