Measles Virus
Family: Paramyxoviridae     Genus: Morbillivirus
Measles is an entirely preventable disease causing many needless deaths each year.


         Measles is one of the most contagious of all human viruses, with about forty million infections world wide each year, and one to two million deaths.  Measles outbreaks are common in underdeveloped countries where there is lower socioecoomic status, crowding, and low access to health care.

        All primary measles virus infections give rise to the disease, however the result is lifelong immunity. Measles causes rash, cough, and fever, and can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, seizures, brain damage, and death. A rash appears approximately three days after the initial symptoms of abrupt cough, runny nose, and inflamed conjunctivae. Koplik spots (small bluish yellow spots) occur in the mouth on buccal mucosa. The maculopapular rash appears first on the head, and then progressively spreads over the chest, trunk, and then limbs, eventually covering the entire body.  Infection of the measles virus occurs through the respiratory tract.  The receptor for the measles virus is the human complement regulatory cofactor protein CD46.  The disease usually runs its course in about two weeks, assuming there are no complications.  The measles virus kills cell by fusing together the cell membranes of neighboring cells.  The virus can replicate in a variety of tissues, including the immune system and nervous system.  The virus enters the local lymphatics and is transported to the lymph nodes where the virus multiplies and spreads to other lymph nodes, the spleen, and then to the rest of the body.

        The Schwarz vaccine is used to today and this live attenuated vaccine and should be given to every child at about fifteen months which results in about 95-98% seroconversion, with a booster recommended  to ensure lifelong immunity.  Measles is a preventable disease and has the possibility of eradication with the proper immunization program.   Proper nutrition provides a good defense to measles; the malnourished children of developing countries are much more susceptible to complications and death.

Game action:  WHO thanks you for getting your measles vaccination!!  You win extra points!

Principles of Virology Flint, Enquist, Krug, Racaniello, and Skalka (2000)  p 538
Medical Virology by White and Fenner (1994) p 461-465