Home » What it’s actually like to get measles

What it’s actually like to get measles

by NBC News

It starts with a high fever — in some cases, up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Children may also feel achy or lose energy. 

Roughly a day after the fever sets in come the three C’s of measles: cough, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and coryza (a runny nose). Some kids may be sensitive to light and start to squint, as well.

But the most characteristic signs of measles — tiny white spots in the mouth and a blotchy rash that spreads from head to toe — don’t appear right away. 

The spots typically show up on the insides of the cheeks near the molars about two to three days after symptoms start. The rash — which consists of flat, red spots — breaks out between days three and five, forming at the hairline before spreading to the neck, torso, arms, legs and feet.

“It’s as if you sort of poured a bucket of measles on your head, and then it works its way down,” said Dr. Paul Offit, who had measles as a child before vaccines were available. Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

Already this year, 35 measles cases have been recorded across 15 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That puts the U.S. on track to surpass last year’s total of 58.

The two biggest outbreaks have been in Florida — which recorded its 10th measles case over the weekend — and Pennsylvania, which identified nine cases over a monthlong period from December to January.

Around 1 to 3 out of every 1,000 children infected with measles die from respiratory and neurological complications. In rare cases, measles can also lead to blindness or long-term vision problems. 

But many people may not be aware of its symptoms or severity, according to doctors who treat measles patients. And even for those who recover fully and quickly, the illness can be painful, Offit said: “If you look at children who have measles, they’re miserable.”

‘I was getting delirious at one point’

By the time the measles rash reaches…

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