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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6 (October 2, 1933)



As measles are prevalent just now, it is well for mothers to have a working knowledge of the symptoms and treatment of the malady.

Measles are most infectious during the early stages, and are disseminated directly through the secretions of the throat, nose, etc. The incubation period is from ten to fourteen days. The patient must be isolated for not less than a fortnight after the rash appears. A longer period will be necessary if he is not quite convalescent.

Course and Symptoms. —Measles begin with a catarrhal stage. A child has what appears to be a catarrhal cold in which there is running from the eyes and nose, coughing, sneezing and hoarseness, and often some swelling of the mucus membrane of the mouth. Quite early small red spots with a bluish white centre may be discovered on the mucus membrane on the inside of the cheek. They are very small and not always seen. Preliminary rashes often appear during this stage. On the fourth day the eruptive stage usually begins.

The face has a swollen, bloated appearance, and the catarrh continues. The temperature rises and the patient becomes acutely ill. The rash begins (usually behind the ears). The face is first involved, and then the trunk and limbs The rash is dusky red, raised and blotchy. After a day or two the rash begins to fade, the temperature falls, gradually becoming normal. There is usually some branny desquamation of the skin.

Complications. —The most serious complication is broncho-pneumonia. Inflammation of the eyes may lead to serious complications and even to loss of sight, and there may be inflammation of the middle ear with purulent discharge and later on mastoid disease or meningitis. Enlargement of the glands of the neck is not uncommon. Laryngitis may also occur.

When there are any of the above complications, it is necessary to secure medical advice without delay.

Treatment. —When it is known that measles are prevalent, it is well to isolate the patient as soon as the catarrhal cold appears. If it is a cold only it will probably clear up in a day or two.

Put the patient to bed in a warm wellventilated room and out of draughts. It is most essential to keep the patient warm and also as quiet as possible. Cleanse the mouth before and after feeding, with a mouth wash of a mild disinfectant, such as salt and water, or Condy's Fluid diluted to a pale pink clour. Cleanse the eyes of all discharge, with weak boracic lotion. Use pledgets of cotton wool for the purpose, and do not put the used ones back into the lotion but into a paper bag so that they may be burnt immediately. Shade the eyes from strong light. Good eye-shades may be made from a piece of brown paper cut nine inches long and seven inches wide and doubled. Tie pieces of tape at the top ends and tie round the head. Bathe the skin daily with a little disinfectant in the water and anoint with oil to prevent itching. Disinfect carefully any articles used in the sick room, and keep cups, tumblers, spoons, etc., separate. Do not use handkerchiefs—use pieces of old soft rag which can be burnt.

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Diet. —Give plenty of fluids—water, barley water, fruit drinks, black currant tea, milk, etc. Only easily digested and nutritious foods must be given, such as custards, gruel, smooth milk puddings, broths, etc. Watch the bowels and give aperients when necessary.

Persons nursing measles or other infectious patients should wear overalls kept specially for the purpose, and worn only in the sick room.Scrub the hands thoroughly with a nail brush and an antiseptic soap (such as carbolic soap) before and after doing treatments and after leaving the room.

To aviod infection, keep in the fresh air and sunshine as much as possible. Avoid close contact with sufferers. Gargle with a weak solution of Condy's Fluid. Drink plenty of water. Eat nourishing food, and have suitable exercise to keep the body fit and build up resistance to withstand the invasion of germs.