How to prevent measles infection —Experts

To prevent measles infection, Nigerians must embrace good hygiene and nutrition practices and also get vaccinated against the health condition, health experts have said.

According to the experts, while most people develop immunity after a measles infection and are thus not likely to contract it again in the future, getting vaccinated and practising good hygiene remain crucial to preventing measles.

They averred that the body’s immunity can be strengthened from contracting measles through basic hygiene and vaccination.

They also said that a well-balanced diet could help reduce the incidence of measles in the body.

Measles is a viral infection that spreads through the air by respiratory droplets produced from coughing or sneezing. Measles symptoms include cough, inflamed eyes, runny nose, sore throat, fever, and a red, blotchy skin rash.

While the condition affects adults and children, it’s often very serious for small children.

Speaking with our correspondent, the experts, UK-based Attending Family Health Physician, Dr. Abdulmaleek Sado, and a Lagos-based Nurse, Abigail Adekunle said measles can be dangerous and even fatal with long-lasting complications arising from it if not promptly and properly treated.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Dr. Sado listed diarrhoea and vomiting as some of the symptoms of measles.

He said: “Most people develop lifelong immunity after measles infection and would not get it again in the future. The immune system can, however, be strengthened from contracting measles mainly through vaccination and basic hygiene.

“A well-balanced diet and adequate nutrition help to boost the immune system and reduce the risk of complications from measles. People who have not been vaccinated, children less than five years and adults above 20 years, and poor nutritional status are some of the risk factors for complications from measles some of which include pneumonia and meningoencephalitis.”

When asked if there was a way to test for immunity against measles, Dr. Sado said, “Yes, one can do a blood test to check for the level of IgG antibody to measles. This is likely to be positive if one has previously been infected or has been vaccinated but would suggest immunity to measles”

He also stressed that measles can result in serious complications.

“Complications include diarrhoea and vomiting which can cause dehydration and mortality, especially in children under five years of age. Others include pneumonia, encephalitis, bronchitis, ear infection (otitis media), meningitis, blindness, seizures, etc,” he said.

He stressed that measles can be very dangerous, noting that anyone especially children less than five years can die from it or suffer complications that can be long-lasting.

Measles, he said, is a major cause of under-five mortality, especially in developing countries due to the relatively low vaccine uptake and generally poor public health measures.

He, however, noted that the measles vaccine remains very effective.

“The main recommendation according to the WHO is through vaccination. For instance, the WHO states that vaccination reduced death rates from measles globally by 73 per cent between 2000 and 2018. Other measures that may help include general hygiene measures and balanced diet/ optimal nutrition.”

“Children under five years, unvaccinated pregnant women, and adults are more prone to measles and its complications.

“This is thought to be because the immune system of these children and group of adults have not been sensitised to the measles virus and for children, their immune system is still maturing, hence their risk.

“Pregnancy generally creates a temporary immuno-suppressed state, hence lack of immune sensitisation from previous vaccination makes them a lot more prone to measles and its complications.

“One other advantage of vaccination especially for young female babies is that it helps them to pass on the antibodies to their babies later in life in a process called passive immunity, which confers immunity on them in the first six months of life before they get their vaccination”.

Also speaking with our correspondent, Nurse Adekunle said that vaccination and a balanced diet greatly help to build up immunity against measles in the body.

She said: “Antibodies are built at first contact with the disease. Antibodies can help to strengthen or weaken immunity and laboratory investigations can be used to test for immunity against measles.

“Measles is deadly because it causes ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, encephalitis amongst others. Measles cannot be prevented without a vaccine and children are more vulnerable to contracting measles because of their low immunity.”

According to a study published online by Health Direct, measles remains a highly contagious viral disease, noting that getting vaccinated is the best way to get immunity against the disease.

In another study conducted by UNICEF, measles was described as a potentially deadly disease, adding that it can also weaken the immune system of a child and make them more vulnerable to other infections long after recovering. This, the study said, is known as immunity amnesia.


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