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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
Most children today are vaccinated against measles when they're 12- to 15-months old with the M-M-R vaccine, which also protects against mumps and rubella, also known as German measles. A booster shot is generally given at age 11 or 12. Although it's less common than it used to be, the disease hasn't been totally eliminated, and it can occur at any age. Measles--whose technical name is 'rubeola' (roo-bee-OH-luh)-- is a highly-contagious disease caused by a virus, and it's early symptoms may resemble a bad cold. There's a dry cough, sore throat, and runny nose, along with a high fever and feelings of weakness and fatigue. There may be white spots on the mouth or inside the cheeks. After a few days, a pink and blotchy rash develops that spreads over the entire body. In rare cases, measles can lead to pneumonia or even encephalitis (en-sef-fuh-LIE-tus), an inflammation of the brain. There's no cure for measles, only treatment of symptoms, such as using topical anti-itch preparations and giving children aspirin substitutes. Make sure children with measles also get plenty of rest and drink lots of liquids. If you think your child may be getting the measles, contact a healthcare professional.

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