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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
German measles
▪ All doses of Hib, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella must be given on or after the first birthday.
▪ He had poor sight following a childhood attack of measles.
▪ How can measles virus escape the body's natural defences to wreak such havoc?
▪ If we are exposed to a measles virus, the immune system will develop antibodies specifically designed to attack measles viruses.
▪ Indeed some schools do not allow girls to do this, seeing pregnancy, like measles, as infectious.
▪ She was a nervous wreck, and all that was wrong with the child was measles.
▪ Then, there is the boy who dies of measles while he lives in this house.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Measles \Mea"sles\, n.; pl. in form, but used as singular in senses 1, 2, & 3. [D. mazelen; akin to G. masern, pl., and E. mazer, and orig. meaning, little spots. See Mazer.]

  1. (Med.) A contagious viral febrile disorder commencing with catarrhal symptoms, and marked by the appearance on the third day of an eruption of distinct red circular spots, which coalesce in a crescentic form, are slightly raised above the surface, and after the fourth day of the eruption gradually decline; rubeola. It is a common childhood disease.

    Measles commences with the ordinary symptoms of fever.
    --Am. Cyc.

  2. (Veter. Med.) A disease of cattle and swine in which the flesh is filled with the embryos of different varieties of the tapeworm.

  3. A disease of trees. [Obs.]

  4. pl. (Zo["o]l.) The larv[ae] of any tapeworm ( T[ae]nia) in the cysticerus stage, when contained in meat. Called also bladder worms.

    German measles A mild contagious viral disease, which may cause birth defects if contracted by a pregnant woman during early pregnancy; also called rubella.


Measles \Mea"sles\, n. [From 1st Measle.] Leprosy; also, a leper. [Obs.]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

infectious disease, early 14c., Middle English masel, perhaps from Middle Dutch masel "blemish" (in plural "measles") or Middle Low German masele, from Proto-Germanic *mas- "spot, blemish" (cognates: Old High German masla "blood-blister," German Masern "measles").\n

\nThere might have been an Old English cognate, but if so it has not been recorded. Form probably influenced by Middle English mesel "leprous" (late 13c.).


Etymology 1 n. 1 rubeola, an acute highly contagious disease, often of childhood, caused by ''Measles virus'', of genus ''Morbillivirus'', featuring a spreading red skin rash, fever, runny nose, cough and red eyes 2 Any of several other similar diseases, such as German measles. Etymology 2

n. 1 (context obsolete English) (plural of measle English) 2 (context obsolete English) leprosy.


n. an acute and highly contagious viral disease marked by distinct red spots followed by a rash; occurs primarily in children [syn: rubeola, morbilli]


Measles is a highly contagious infection caused by the measles virus. Initial signs and symptoms typically include fever, often greater than , cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes. Two or three days after the start of symptoms, small white spots may form inside the mouth, known as Koplik's spots. A red, flat rash which usually starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body typically begins three to five days after the start of symptoms. Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last 7–10 days. Complications occur in about 30% and may include diarrhea, blindness, inflammation of the brain, and pneumonia among others. Rubella (German measles) and roseola are different diseases.

Measles is an airborne disease which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of those infected. It may also be spread through contact with saliva or nasal secretions. Nine out of ten people who are not immune and share living space with an infected person will catch it. People are infectious to others from four days before to four days after the start of the rash. People usually do not get the disease more than once. Testing for the virus in suspected cases is important for public health efforts.

The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease. Vaccination has resulted in a 75% decrease in deaths from measles between 2000 and 2013 with about 85% of children globally being currently vaccinated. No specific treatment is available. Supportive care may improve outcomes. This may include giving oral rehydration solution (slightly sweet and salty fluids), healthy food, and medications to control the fever. Antibiotics may be used if a secondary bacterial infection such as pneumonia occurs. Vitamin A supplementation is also recommended in the developing world.

Measles affects about 20 million people a year, primarily in the developing areas of Africa and Asia. It causes the most vaccine-preventable deaths of any disease. It resulted in about 96,000 deaths in 2013, down from 545,000 deaths in 1990. In 1980, the disease is estimated to have caused 2.6 million deaths per year. Before immunization in the United States between three and four million cases occurred each year. Most of those who are infected and who die are less than five years old. The risk of death among those infected is usually 0.2%, but may be up to 10% in those who have malnutrition. It is not believed to affect other animals.

Usage examples of "measles".

Smallpox, measles, influenza, and typhus competed for top rank among the killers.

Smallpox, measles, influenza, typhus, bubonic plague, and other infectious diseases endemic in Europe played a decisive role in European conquests, by decimating many peoples on other continents.

Infectious diseases like smallpox, measles, and flu arose as specialized germs of humans, derived by mutations of very similar ancestral germs that had infected animals (Chapter 11).

Against other illnesses, though—including measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and the now defeated smallpox—our antibodies stimulated by one infection confer lifelong immunity.

A classic illustration of how such diseases occur as epidemics is the history of measles on the isolated Atlantic islands called the Faeroes.

A severe epidemic of measles reached the Faeroes in 1781 and then died out, leaving the islands measles free until an infected carpenter arrived on a ship from Denmark in 1846.

Within three months, almost the whole Faeroes population (7,782 people) had gotten measles and then either died or recovered, leaving the measles virus to disappear once again until the next epidemic.

Studies show that measles is likely to die out in any human population numbering fewer than half a million people.

Only in larger populations can the disease shift from one local area to another, thereby persisting until enough babies have been born in the originally infected area that measles can return there.

What's true for measles in the Faeroes is true of our other familiar acute infectious diseases throughout the world.

In addition, measles and some of our other "childhood" diseases are more likely to kill infected adults than children, and all adults in the tribelet are susceptible.

For example, measles virus is most closely related to the virus causing rinderpest.

The close similarity of the measles virus to the rinderpest virus suggests that the latter transferred from cattle to humans and then evolved into the measles virus by changing its properties to adapt to us.

The principal recorded killers were smallpox, influenza, measles, typhoid, typhus, chicken pox, whooping cough, tuberculosis, and syphilis.

The infectious diseases that regularly visited crowded Eurasian societies, and to which many Eurasians consequently developed immune or genetic resistance, included all of history's most lethal killers: smallpox, measles, influenza, plague, tuberculosis, typhus, cholera, malaria, and others.