Diseases such as measles, polio, tuberculosis and whooping cough were largely under control in the 20th century. However, they are starting to reappear due to some people choosing to opt out of vaccinations. I am going to touch on measles, and how symptoms of measles may appear in the mouth before manifesting elsewhere on the body.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection that's caused by a virus. It causes a total-body skin rash and flu-like symptoms, including a fever, cough, and runny nose. Though rare in the United States, 20 million cases happen worldwide every year.
Interestingly enough, symptoms of measles may appear in the mouth before the disease manifests itself anywhere else. However, due to the successful control of the disease, not every dentist has had the opportunity to see the symptoms.
One of the signs of Measles is small red spots with blue-white centers that appear inside the mouth. These are called Koplik's spots. Parents may take their child to the dentist first for care when they notice the spots. Other signs and symptoms can help dentists recognize patients with undiagnosed measles. Fevers, malaise, fussiness, lack of appetite are symptoms that can occur 3-5 days before the rash starts. The rash starts on the face and moves down to the rest of the body.
Measles is highly contagious — 90% of people who haven't been vaccinated for measles will get it if they are near an infected person. Measles spreads when people breathe in or have direct contact with virus-infected fluid, such as the droplets sprayed into the air when someone with measles sneezes or coughs. A person who is exposed to the virus might not show symptoms until 8-10 days later.
People with measles are contagious (can spread the disease) from 4 days before the rash appears until about 4 days after it does and are most contagious while they have a fever, runny nose, and cough.
There is no specific medicine that kills the measles virus. Treatment aims to ease symptoms until the body's immune system clears the infection. For most cases, rest and simple measures to reduce a high temperature (fever) are all that are needed for a full recovery. Symptoms will usually disappear within 7-10 days.
If you are concerned about measles, or any other contagious diseases, I urge you to contact your pediatrician or primary care doctor.
Have a wonderful April!