Website editor’s note: The information below is a brief introduction to measles and measles treatment options. it is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace personalised advice from a health professional.
Measles and Its Symptoms
In people who are usually healthy, measles is usually a mild-moderate illness.
The initial symptoms are often “cough and cold” type symptoms and may include a runny nose, cough, red eyes (viral conjunctivitis) and an elevated body temperature (fever). (Please note that during this period of the illness, and until at three days after the emergence of the rash, people who have measles can easily spread the virus to others. People who are immunocompromised remain infectious for longer; please seek professional advice about the risk of transmitting measles to others if you are in this situation.)
The rash of measles generally appears 3-5 days after the other symptoms. Diarrhoea and vomiting can also be measles symptoms in some cases. The first couple of days of emergence of the rash is usually when the patient is sickest; thereafter their condition should improve.
Treatment Options for Measles
The conventional treatment for measles is bed rest and “supportive care”, including plenty of fluids to ensure that a feverish patient does not become dehydrated. (Occasionally IV fluids are needed.)
The website emedicine.com states that “Fever management with standard antipyretics is appropriate.” However, please note that giving medication to reduce the body temperature has the potential to reduce the response of the immune system and therefore prolong or worsen illness. (See: http://www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/18/2/33/5/ )
Supplemental vitamin A may be given to people who have measles and in fact in recommended by the WHO for all children with measles. (Information about dosages of vitamin A for children with measles may be found at this link: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/966220-treatment#d12 – Please note that these are large dosages of vitamin A and as such they are designed for short term use, not long term use.)
People who have a significant immune deficiency may be offered measles immunoglobulin as part of a plan to prevent or treat measles. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/966220-treatment#d13
If someone with measles develops a bacterial ear infection or a secondary bacterial chest infection, antibiotics can be used to treat these complications.
Other treatments that have been used for people with measles include supplementary vitamin C. (IV vitamin C may be needed in severe cases.)
Measles is listed in Curing the Incurable by Thomas Levy, MD (ISBN 1-4010-6963-0 ) as being “Curable and Preventable” with vitamin C and includes some of Klenner’s case histories including that of an uneventful recovery of a child suffering from measles encephalitis (inflammation of the brain – which according to the NZ Ministry of Health occurs in one in 1000 people who get measles.) Prompt treatment of encephalitis, regardless of the cause is important since the condition may result in death or survivors may be brain damaged.
IV vitamin C has also been used successfully to treat viral pneumonia which is another serious complication of measles and one that is more much more common than encephalitis. (According to the Ministry of Health, about six percent of people who develop measles develop pneumonia as a complication.)
Many New Zealanders will be familiar with the story of Waikato farmer Mr. Allan Smith who was critically ill with double white-out pneumonia in both lungs and alive only because he was on life support. An ECMO machine was oxygenating his blood for him.) As reported on 60 Minutes “Living Proof” Mr Smith made a complete recovery after being administered high dose intravenous vitamin C.
Other treatment options: Vitamin D is important for resistance to infections. Many people may have marginal or deficient levels of Vitamin D due to use of sunscreen, sun avoidance or some medical conditions. Blood tests for vitamin D are available (although there may be a charge to the patient) and high-dose prescription vitamin D tablets are available in NZ for people who need these. (These tablets should be kept out of reach of children as they do not come in childproof packaging.)
Further information about measles (including the more unusual complications) and more information about treatments may be found at this link: http://www.naturalmedicine.net.nz/vaccination/whats-worse-measles-or-the-vaccine/ )
The NZ Ministry of Health’s “Immunisation Handbook” (available online) has information about the rarer complications of measles which are not mentioned in this article.
While measles is usually a mild-moderate illness in usually healthy people who have good nutrition, some of the complications of measles can be life-threatening. While the risk of disability or death from measles is generally very low in NZ, certain people are at higher risk of developing complications including babies under the age of one, people who develop measles as adults, and people who are immunocompromised, including people who are taking high dose steroids or are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. For pregnant women, who are not already immune to measles, a measles infection can be very serious with miscarriage or premature labour among its risks.
If you or your child have been in contact with someone who has measles and you want to consult a doctor or other health professional, please phone ahead of your visit to the clinic so that arrangements can be made to minimise your risk of transmitting the virus to people for whom measles carries higher than normal risks.
NB: Please note that the information on this section of the website is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from a doctor or other competent health professional.