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How is Measles Diagnosed?

Discover how measles is diagnosed, its symptoms, and management strategies. Vaccination is crucial for prevention, as there is no specific cure for this highly contagious viral illness.

  • 12 Feb 2024
  • 2 min read

Measles, also known as rubeola, is a viral illness characterized by fever and a distinctive rash. This highly contagious disease spreads through the air when an infected individual talks, coughs, or sneezes. Unfortunately, there is no specific medical treatment available for measles and one must allow the virus to run its course. However, prevention is better than cure and it is possible to prevent measles as well. The most effective safeguard against the illness is receiving the measles vaccine. Regrettably, vaccination rates remain low in various regions worldwide. This leaves individuals susceptible to contracting measles, particularly when traveling internationally. Those who have not received the measles vaccine are at a significant risk of infection.

Here is a reminder- Considering the rising healthcare costs, it is important that you invest in health insurance.

Diagnosis of measles

A measles diagnosis can be challenging due to similarities with many illnesses. However, there are various methods employed by medical practitioners to diagnose the same.

  • Healthcare providers typically diagnose measles by examining the characteristic rash. They also look for Koplik's spots, small bluish-white spots on the inside lining of the cheek, against its bright red background.
  • They inquire about vaccination history to determine if the patient has received the measles vaccine. Your doctor might also inquire about recent international travel
  • Some doctors may lack experience in recognizing it as the measles rash can resemble other illnesses. This is one of the causes which makes measles diagnosis more challenging.
  • When necessary, a blood test can confirm the presence of measles. Healthcare providers often use a throat swab or urine sample to detect the measles virus.
  • For both outbreaks and sporadic measles cases, laboratory confirmation is necessary. The most popular techniques for verifying measles infection are the detection of measles-specific IgM antibody in serum and measles RNA by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in a respiratory samples.

Symptoms usually appear 8 to 12 days after exposure to an infected person. However, it can take up to 21 days for symptoms to manifest. 

Common Symptoms of measles are:

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Red or bloodshot eyes

A few days after the initial symptoms, a red, blotchy rash emerges. It starts from the face and then spreads across the body. This rash typically persists for about 7 to 10 days. Some other symptoms are:

  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain
  • White spots in the mouth
  • Sensitivity to light

As far as managing measles is concerned, there is no specific cure for measles. The virus must run its course, which generally lasts for about 10 to 14 days. For symptom management the following can be done:

  • Acetaminophen or NSAIDs help in alleviating pains, or fever.
  • Adequate rest is important to recover sooner.
  • Staying well-hydrated.
  • Gargling with salt water.
  • Individuals with sensitive eyes should avoid harsh light

Also read:


Measles, an extremely contagious disease, manifests with symptoms like fever, a red rash, cough, and watery eyes. It can potentially lead to severe complications. The disease is also incredibly contagious, and if one person has it, there are chances of up to 9 or 10 people around them catching it. The death toll for the disease is also prominent for a disease which can be immunised against, at 134,200 deaths per year To prevent both contracting and spreading measles, receiving the measles vaccine is paramount. Managing the disease while dealing with the hassle of the financial side of things can be a bit tough. And in such situations, health insurance can reduce the stress by a ton, while ensuring that any sudden health issues do not impact you and your family financially.

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