Measles diagnosis (hiding Measles)


Taken from PULSE, January 18, 1997

Measles is wrongly diagnosed in 97 per cent of cases, according to new data from the Public Health Laboratory Service.

An evaluation of 12,000 notifications and salivary samples from suspected cases showed the vast majority of people with a measles-like rash has some other condition instead, according to Dr Mark Reecher, consultant in public health medicine at the Public Health Laboratory Service, Colindale.

'We're not saying for one minute that GPs are poor at making a diagnosis -these findings simply show how inherently difficult it is to make a diagnosis based on clinical symptoms alone. Any doctor would find it difficult to differentiate between viruses.

'Previously we had a lot of measles infection in the community and these other viruses were submerged, but as the incidence of measles subsides we are able to see more clearly what other viruses are lurking in the background,' he said.

According to Dr Roger Buttery, consultant in communicable diseases at Cambridge and Huntingdon health authority, many patients probably had common viral infections such as cytomegalovirus or Epstein Barr virus.

He also said that measles was not the only condition being misdiagnosed.

'Hardly any cases of suspected mumps were confirmed from salivary tests, which is surprising as you would think it had a fairly clear clinical picture,' he added.

Rubella, however, which has more ambiguous symptoms, was correctly diagnosed in about 25 per cent of cases.

'We think we know what many of these illnesses look like, but diagnostic tests show there is great diversity and what we think is classic mumps may well he something else,' he said.


Editor Informed Parent - It would be interesting to know how long the misdiagnosis of measles has been occurring? - Perhaps the last thirty years or more? - In which case how can they be sure of the effectiveness of the measles vaccine?