5 things everyone needs to know about measles

Hong Kong has just recorded its 20th case of measles this year, an unusually high number for the infectious airborne disease

Susan Ramsay |

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As the city's measles cases climb, it's a good time to ask your parents if they are sure you have been vaccinated, and that you've had both shots. In the meantime, arm yourself with the facts:

1. Measles can kill. It can also cause blindness, ear infections and brain inflammation. It also affects the immune system for months, leaving victims open to super infections which are very difficult to treat.

2. It is a highly infectious airborne disease, spread through sneezes and coughs.

3. The best cure is prevention by vaccination. The double vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective.

4. The early symptoms of the disease mimic influenza - high fever, runny nose, cough and red, watery eyes. The signature rash may take as long as five days to appear after the first symptoms are noticed.

5. Measles is a virus, so antibiotics won't help. This also means that there is no specific cure. All doctors can do is manage symptoms and complications. These might include a bacterial infection.