Judith M. Hübschen*, Ionela Gouandjika-Vasilache, Julia Dina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Measles is a highly contagious, potentially fatal, but vaccine-preventable disease caused by measles virus. Symptoms include fever, maculopapular rash, and at least one of cough, coryza, or conjunctivitis, although vaccinated individuals can have milder or even no symptoms. Laboratory diagnosis relies largely on the detection of specific IgM antibodies in serum, dried blood spots, or oral fluid, or the detection of viral RNA in throat or nasopharyngeal swabs, urine, or oral fluid. Complications can affect many organs and often include otitis media, laryngotracheobronchitis, pneumonia, stomatitis, and diarrhoea. Neurological complications are uncommon but serious, and can occur during or soon after the acute disease (eg, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis) or months or even years later (eg, measles inclusion body encephalitis and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis). Patient management mainly involves supportive therapy, such as vitamin A supplementation, monitoring for and treatment of secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics, and rehydration in the case of severe diarrhoea. There is no specific antiviral therapy for the treatment of measles, and disease control largely depends on prevention. However, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, measles is still endemic in many countries and causes considerable morbidity and mortality, especially among children in resource-poor settings. The low case numbers reported in 2020, after a worldwide resurgence of measles between 2017 and 2019, have to be interpreted cautiously, owing to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on disease surveillance. Disrupted vaccination activities during the pandemic increase the potential for another resurgence of measles in the near future, and effective, timely catch-up vaccination campaigns, strong commitment and leadership, and sufficient resources will be required to mitigate this threat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-690
Number of pages13
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number10325
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2022


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