No treatment can get rid of an established measles infection. However, some measures can be taken to protect vulnerable individuals who have been exposed to the virus.
- Post-exposure vaccination. Nonimmunized people, including infants, may be given the measles vaccination within 72 hours of exposure to the measles virus, to provide protection against the disease. If measles still develops, the illness usually has milder symptoms and lasts for a shorter time.
- Immune serum globulin. Pregnant women, infants and people with weakened immune systems who are exposed to the virus may receive an injection of proteins (antibodies) called immune serum globulin. When given within six days of exposure to the virus, these antibodies can prevent measles or make symptoms less severe.
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- Fever reducers. You or your child may also take over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen (Aleve) to help relieve the fever that accompanies measles. Don't give aspirin to children because of the risk of Reye's syndrome — a rare but potentially fatal disease.
- Antibiotics. If a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia or an ear infection, develops while you or your child has measles, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.
- Vitamin A. People with low levels of vitamin A are more likely to have a more severe case of measles. Giving vitamin A may lessen the severity of the measles. It's generally given as a large dose of 200,000 international units (IU) for two days.
- Measles. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec14/ch193/ch193b.html#sec14-ch193-ch193b-2738. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Overview of measles disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/overview.html. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Fact sheet: Measles. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/index.html. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Corrales-Medina VF, et al. Viral and rickettsial infections. In: McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2011. 50th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=17235&searchStr=measles. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Parker AA, et al. Measles (Rubeola). In: Brunette GW, et al. CDC Health Information for International Travel 2010. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2009. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2010/chapter-2/measles.aspx. Accessed April 16, 2011.
- Measles. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/vaccine-preventable-diseases/Pages/Measles.aspx. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Bekhor D, et al. Prevention and treatment of measles. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Update on measles outbreaks throughout the United States: CDC press briefing, August 21, 2008. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/media/transcripts/2008/t080808.htm. Accessed April 17, 2011.
- NHS immunisation statistics, England 2009-10. National Health Service. http://www.ic.nhs.uk/webfiles/publications/003_Health_Lifestyles/immstats0910/Immunisations_Bulletin_2009-10.pdf. Accessed April 17, 2011.
- Measles. National Health Service. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Measles/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed April 17, 2011.
- Retraction-Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. The Lancet. 2010:375:445.