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Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that tends to infect children. It causes high grade fever, headache, cough, runny nose, red watery eyes and a characteristic rash all over the body.
In addition, the infected person develops white spots in the insides of the mouth before the rash makes its appearance. These spots are known as Koplik's spots.The incubation period of the virus is around 10 to 12 day. Thereafter, the first symptoms appear. These symptoms are very similar to a severe cold. However, the person develops the Koplik's spots in the mouth from which the diagnosis of the disease can be made. Nonetheless, most parents realized that their child is suffering from measles only after the rash starts appearing on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body.
A Persian physician was the first person to describe the symptoms of measles so that it could be differentiated from smallpox. This was done in the 9th century. The physician's name was Ibn Razi. His description of measles was translated into English only in 1847.
However, the credit for discovering the characteristics of measles goes to Henry Koplik. He did this in 1856. The term measles comes from a Middle English word known as maselen, which means many little spots. This describes the characteristic rash that develops. Rubeola, the scientific term for measles, describes the red color of the rash.
The measles virus was discovered in the 1930s, and it was John Enders who managed to isolate the virus in 1954 in search for a vaccine against the infection. In the 1960s, the first measles vaccine made from live but weak strain of virus became available. Today, in the US, children are vaccinated against measles as a part of their childhood immunization program. And, as a result measles outbreaks are quite rare.
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