Laboratory diagnosis of measles

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Laboratory examination is necessary mainly for diagnosis of unclear measles cases.

Material for investigation (nasopharyngeal swabs and blood samples) should be obtained from the last days of prodromal phase till 1-2 day of eruptive period.

For detection of viral RNA reverse transcription PCR (or RT-PCR) may be used.

Virus isolation is performed by specimen inoculation into monkey kidney cells, human amnion cells or HEp-2 cells.

Virus is detected after 7-10 days of culture by characteristic cytopathic effects. Multinucleated giant cells (symplasts) and intranuclear and intracytoplasmic inclusions appear within the infected cells.

Serological diagnosis is carried out with paired sera tests, where fourfold rise in antibody titer is observed. IgM class antibodies are the markers of the ongoing disease. Antibodies titers are evaluated by hemagglutination inhibition test, neutralization reaction and ELISA.

Specific prophylaxis and treatment of measles

Attenuated live measles vaccine is administered for active prophylaxis of the disease. Vaccination is considered to confer lifelong immunity with high efficacy. Live measles vaccine is predominantly used for vaccination in combination with attenuated mumps and rubella viral strains generally known as measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, or MMR.

The treatment of measles is supportive. If requires, infusion therapy and body detoxication is administered.