Common ailments

Measles

My six-year old daughter has had a cough and a fever for a few days and her eyes have been watery and streaming. I assumed she just had a cold but today I noticed that she’s got a spotty rash behind her ears that has now spread to her face and neck, what could this be and do I need to take her to the doctor?

Your daughter does sound poorly and if the rash is a red-brown colour and has started behind the ears and then spread then it sounds like she could have measles. The measles rash can last for up to eight days and generally spreads further to the body and legs.

There is no specific treatment for measles so the best thing to do is to make sure your daughter drinks plenty of water and takes paracetamol or ibuprofen to help relieve the fever. However, you should still see your GP as soon as possible to get a confirmed measles diagnosis. Measles is a notifiable disease and GPs have a duty to inform the local health authority in order to identify the source of the measles outbreak and try to prevent more cases. It is really important that your daughter is kept away from other children for five days after the rash has appeared to stop measles spreading.

Measles is a highly infectious viral disease spread by tiny droplets transmitted by the infected person coughing and sneezing. It can lead to some serious complications such as blindness and in rare cases it can be life-threatening. Vaccination is the only way of preventing measles and anyone who has not been vaccinated is at risk.

The combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination is given as an injection in two stages; when a child is 12-13 months old – and then a second dose before they start school from the age of 3 years 4 months. If your child has not been fully vaccinated against measles then it is never too late to get and it is free on the NHS for children – just contact your GP practice and they will be happy to provide advice or make an appointment for you.

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