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.
Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 3, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
- 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.
- Moss WJ, et al. Measles. The Lancet. 2012;379:153.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 13, 2014.
- Measles. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/. Accessed Feb. 13, 2014.
- Measles (rubeola). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/. Accessed Feb. 13, 2014.
- Barinaga JL et al. Clinical presentation and diagnosis of measles. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 13, 2014.
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- Measles. National Health Service. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Measles/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Measles cases in England 'almost double.' National Health Service. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/08august/Pages/measles-cases-england-almost-double.aspx. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Hornig M, et al. Lack of association between measles virus vaccine and autism with enteropathy: A case-control study. PLoS ONE. 2008;3:e3140.
- Sullivan JE, et al. Fever and antipyretic use in children. Pediatrics. 2011;127:580.