Atypical Measles in Adolescents and Young Adults

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Seven patients, aged 12 to 19 years, had atypical measles. Prodromal symptoms of fever, malaise, myalgia, headache, nausea, and vomiting were commonly followed by coryza, sore throat, conjunctivitis, photophobia, nonproductive cough, and pleuritic pain. The characteristic rash was erythematous, maculopapular, and progressed frequently to vesicular, petechial, or purpuric lesions. It initially involved palms and soles with subsequent spread to proximal extremities and the trunk, sparing the face. Six of six chest roentgenograms showed infiltrates. Findings not previously described in atypical measles included liver enzyme elevations, thrombocytopenia, disseminated intravascular coagulation, possible transmission among three siblings, and suspected cardiac involvement. Measles complement fixation titers compatible with recent infection were seen in all patients. All patients had previously received killed measles vaccine. A substantial number of persons who are older adolescents or young adults may be at risk of developing atypical measles.

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