Very common until an effective vaccine was invented in the early 1970’s, measles is now very rare. It’s caused by a virus, which means there’s no antibiotic treatment for it (see Differences Among Germs). Most people with measles get better and become immune (can never get it again), but some get a pneumonia or brain infection and can die. Adults get sicker than children. In poor countries, children with even only low degrees of malnutrition often die or go blind.
Measles begins with a fever along with cough, runny nose, & red eyes. There may be white Koplik’s spots on inside of cheeks opposite the molars [said to resemble “grains of salt on a red sea”]. The body rash occurs around the 3rd or 4th day — splotchy red patches and bumps all over the body (no pain or itching). Even though there’s no treatment, it’s important to obtain blood tests to track and limit outbreaks, since the virus is very contagious.
Rare parents still refuse to vaccinate children because of fears that have been scientifically debunked. If not enough children are vaccinated, outbreaks become easier. In 2015 a woman in Washington state died of measles because she had a disease of the immune system, so her childhood vaccine no longer helped. Any parents there who didn’t allow their kids to be vaccinated could well feel guilty.