Overview Of Infectious Diseases: Measles and Chickenpox


Happy New Year 2020!

We are beginning this year with a series of articles on common diseases. For the next 11 weeks we will share few details about various infectious diseases. Today we are starting with Measles and Chickenpox.

It is important to understand that these illnesses are not infectious for kids only – they affect adults as well. Both measles and chickenpox are viral diseases caused by measles virus and varicella-zoster virus respectively.

How do each present?

An adult case of measles

What are the symptoms for measles?

  • Rash that starts first on the forehead and then spreads to other parts of the body
  • Fever
  • Running nose
  • Hacking cough
  • Sore throat
  • Inflamed reddish eyes
  • Small red spots with blue centers inside the mouth and on cheeks
A baby with chickenpox

What are the symptoms for chickenpox?

  • Rash that starts on chest, then face, back and other body parts
  • Fever and headache
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Disease management.

Both diseases are highly contagious and spread from one infected person to another. They mostly spread through air droplets contaminated by viruses. The spread can also be through direct physical contact with an infected person via bodily fluids. For chickenpox, a person is contagious even before the rash appears and remains contagious until the rash is dried. A person infected with the measles virus is contagious four days before and after the rash appears.

Managing these diseases is through symptomatic treatment. It is important to seek medical assistance when noticing any of the above symptoms. Because of high risks of spread in the community it is important to limit a patient’s movement.

It is most important to stay hydrated by drinking enough water. Pain- and fever-reducing drugs such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used (Note: do not give Aspirin to children).


Measles and Chickenpox can be prevented using vaccines. This is important due to the possible severe complications caused by those diseases in the general population and in pregnant women in particular. Additionally, if a pregnant woman contracts chickenpox, serious birth defects can be the result for her unborn baby.

Both vaccines are given in two doses for children over 1 year of age. The intervals between both doses vary according to a country’s vaccination schedule.

If large parts of a community are vaccinated, a so called herd immunity is created – an indirect protection from an infectious disease. This is beneficial to people who are unable to get vaccinated, like elders, pregnant women, small babies or immunocompromised persons.

For those on Zanzibar Island, you can book an appointment for baby well check with us here.

For more questions, please contact us on contact@urbancare.clinic