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Communicable Diseases: Measles and Its Impact on the Population


Among the variety of communicable diseases, there are those that are typical for certain population groups. One of the problems of modern medicine is measles, mostly a child’s ailment. Despite the fact that the treatment of this disease meets the quality standards of modern medicine, the danger for patients still exists since each case can manifest itself in different ways. In order to assess the health threat and influence on the population, it is necessary to consider the features and symptoms of measles, its causes, and consequences in detail. The analysis of different factors and determinants will allow identifying the effect on the population and understanding what measures can be taken by medical employees to resolve and reduce the impact of measles.

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Disease Description

Associated Factors

Measles is a widespread acute infectious disease that occurs mainly in children. It is characterized by a high temperature, the inflammation of the nose, eyes, and throat, and the appearance of a spotty rash on the skin (Rivadeneira, Bassanesi, & Fuchs, 2018). The source of the infection is a sick patient who is contagious to others from the last two days of the incubation period to the 4th day of rashes. Since the 5th day of the rash, the patient is considered non-contagious. After the illness, lifelong immunity persists. Those people who have not been infected with measles and have not been vaccinated against it remain highly susceptible to the ailment throughout their life and may become ill at any age.

It is essential to remember that the disease does not start with the appearance of rash but with the symptoms of the common cold: a high temperature, severe weakness, the lack of appetite, dry cough, and runny nose (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Later, conjunctivitis may manifest itself. Approximately two-four days after the first symptoms, small whitish rashes occur on the mucous membrane of the cheeks. Later, there is a rash in the form of bright spots that tend to merge with one another.

The mode of transmission is airborne. The virus is released into the external environment through the droplets of saliva during conversations, coughing, and sneezing. This infection is characterized by almost 100% susceptibility (Rivadeneira et al., 2018, p. 269). It means that if a person who and not vaccinated with measles is in contact with a patient, the likelihood of becoming sick is extremely high.

Complications develop more often in children under the age of five or in adults over twenty (Rahmawati, Ma’rufi, & Ningtyias, 2018). The most common forms are middle ear inflammation (otitis), blindness, pneumonia, the inflammation of the cervical lymph nodes, laryngitis, and encephalitis (Rahmawati et al., 2018). All these accompanying problems are possible in the case of this disease, which poses a considerable threat.

In typical cases, the diagnosis of measles is not difficult. Medical experts study the clinical picture of the disease and prescribe treatment. Sometimes, the serological methods of investigation may be required (the detection of antibodies to measles virus in the serum of the patient) (Rahmawati et al., 2018). The treatment of uncomplicated measles is symptomatic, including bed rest, plentiful drink, taking antipyretic, cough, and sore throat medications, expectorants, vitamins. The introduction of inexpensive and safe vaccines has made it possible to reduce “the high case fatality rates associated with measles in children” (Prada et al., 2017, p. 1488). In case of complications, further treatment is carried out in a hospital.

Demographic of Interest

The level of morbidity and mortality from measles is high in order to seek ways to prevent this disease. According to Rivadeneira et al. (2018), “in 2015, despite a 79% reduction in mortality from 2000 to 2015, 251,342 cases of measles were reported worldwide, with an estimated 134,200 deaths” (p. 269). Moreover, the danger of the epidemic is possible even in countries where effective interventions are taken to prevent it. Measles is a reportable disease, and all the information is usually sent to the Ministry of Healthcare, where its representatives analyze the data collected and make decisions regarding the need for action. It is done in the shortest time to eliminate the risk of widespread infection.

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Health Determinants

Some determinants of health can be seen as those that contribute to the development of measles. Rivadeneira et al. (2018) argue that the socioeconomic status of patients is an essential criterion since it determines access to vaccines. Environmental conditions, according to the authors, are another factor that should be taken into account (Rivadeneira et al., 2018). Living conditions in a certain region may be favorable for spreading the infection, and if insufficient measures are taken for prevention, the epidemic can begin. Finally, as Rivadeneira et al. (2018) note, a biological determinant is another factor contributing to the development of measles. Weakened immunity, the lack of important microelements in the body, and other causes can positively affect the spread of the infection. Therefore, all of these criteria should be taken into account when drawing up a plan for combating this communicable disease.

Epidemiologic Triangle

When evaluating the disease under consideration from the standpoint of such a functional mechanism as the epidemiological triangle, a number of criteria should be taken into account: host, agent, and environmental factors. Each category carries a certain value and may be used as a tool for assessing the ailment. Also, information obtained through such an analysis is useful both for the population and medical communities.

Host factors include the main data about a particular patient. According to Rahmawati et al. (2018), “age, immunization, nutritional status” should be mentioned (p. 57). Thus, the disease can be described in view of these criteria. As already mentioned, children tend to suffer from measles more often than adults. Immunization is an important component of the treatment and prevention of the disease. Nutritional status is the aspect that determines the state of health and, as a consequence, exposure to the risk of the illness.

Agent factors are the criteria by which a person can become infected with measles. They can either be present or not. A person is the main carrier of the infection, as Rahmawati et al. (2018) remark. “Environmental risk factors that are from the socioeconomic environment is the family income” (Rahmawati et al., 2018, p. 58). This information is essential when assessing the prospects for the spread of infection among the population and can be used as an auxiliary tool in medical interventions. The order of vaccination as an effective means of preventing measles, for instance, in schools, is largely due to the consideration of these factors and their impact on the situation.

Community Health Nurse Role

The tasks of those nurses who are the members of the community combating measles include the whole range of activities. Case finding is one of them. In order to assess the situation and make an assumption regarding a potential epidemic timely, it is necessary to monitor the health status of a particular population group. In case of an increase in the number of infected and positive disease dynamics, reports should be immediately prepared.

Reporting is the activity that includes the description of registered cases, the symptoms detected, and the condition of patients, as well as general information about the situation in a particular group. In case senior management is aware of a possible crisis situation prematurely, it will provide an opportunity to take timely measures and prevent a large-scale spread of the infection. In addition, correctly submitted information may contribute to resolving the problem at an early stage.

Data collection and analysis are an integral part of the nurses’ activities in communities (Rahmawati et al., 2018). In order to have a comprehensive picture of the problem, it is essential to have appropriate information on the number of patients, the severity of the disease, possible risks, and other relevant data. Their analysis will make it possible to choose an appropriate and relevant intervention and prevent global infection.

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Finally, follow-up is an important part of a complex intervention. It is significant to not only note the number of patients but also to monitor the development of the illness, note any changes, and promptly help if necessary. Moreover, it will be of good use for education purposes. Thus, the activities of nurses in communities are useful and important, and careful work is to be done to protect the population.

Organization Addressing the Disease

The dissemination of information on the causes, complications, and consequences of measles is an essential aspect of public health institutions’ activities. At the same time, not only the representatives of clinics and nursing communities are involved in this work. Such a national organization as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also takes an active part in educating the population. In particular, regarding measles, the CDC describes the importance of vaccination as an effective means of combating this communicable disease (CDC, 2018). The representatives of the organization constantly provide information on the success of preventive procedures, noting that “widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era” (CDC, 2018, para. 5). Such statistics allow people to assess the importance of preventive measures adequately and draw the right conclusions.

While informing the population about the need to monitor the health status regularly, the CDC reduces the risk of dangerous measles and protects many people. The specialists of this public organization work for patients to be aware of the benefits that preventive procedures can bring. Addressing the issue of measles infection is one of the agency’s activities, and the CDC does everything possible to help people.

Global Implication of the Disease

Measles is a global disease and cannot be regarded as an ailment that is typical for a particular region. However, the outbreaks of its infection occur in some areas occasionally. For example, Rivadeneira et al. (2018) describe the epidemic of measles that occurred in Ecuador. As a rationale for this situation, the authors mention host and environmental factors, in particular, the lack of access to quality vaccination and the low social status of some citizens (Rivadeneira et al., 2018). Despite these criteria, the disease can erupt in any region since the illness is transmitted by airborne droplets, and the likelihood of infection in case of vaccination absence is very high.

Lifestyle plays an essential role and is one of the determinants of health. Rahmawati et al. (2018) mention the case of Indonesia, where a severe measles epidemic also began. According to the results of the study, patients’ poor nutritional status was the primary cause of the illness (Rahmawati et al., 2018). Therefore, regardless of location, measles can manifest itself everywhere, and healthcare institutions along with medical communities should do everything possible to prevent it. Otherwise, the risk of dying from this ailment remains, and complications can have an even more detrimental effect.


The impact of measles on the population can be assessed through the analysis of factors and determinants that affect health. A number of criteria need to be taken into account, including the socioeconomic status of people, nutritional habits, access to vaccination, and other conditions. The role of nurses in communities is significant since they perform many tasks, helping the population and at the same time contributing to the fight against the illness. Some organizations, for instance, the CDC, educate people about specific ways to prevent measles and help to reduce the risk of developing the ailment. The disease can be global and erupt in different countries. However, the factors mentioned previously are the key criteria that affect the outbreak of an epidemic in a particular region.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018). Measles vaccination. Web.

Prada, J. M., Metcalf, C. J. E., Takahashi, S., Lessler, J., Tatem, A. J., & Ferrari, M. (2017). Demographics, epidemiology and the impact of vaccination campaigns in a measles-free world – Can elimination be maintained? Vaccine, 35(11), 1488-1493. Web.

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Rahmawati, L., Ma’rufi, I., & Ningtyias, F. W. (2018). Nutrition status as determinant of incidence of measles in Jember Regency. Health Notions, 2(1), 57-61.

Rivadeneira, M. F., Bassanesi, S. L., & Fuchs, S. C. (2018). Role of health determinants in a measles outbreak in Ecuador: A case-control study with aggregated data. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 269-276. Web.

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