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Measles - A Infants Last Memory Shouldn't Be The ICU

Measles - A Infants Last Memory Shouldn't Be The ICU

It was 1977. I had been an ICU nurse for 10 months and went to work scared all of the time.

This sweet two year old child had been admitted the day before with pyrexia (fever) and rash. No drugs or treatments for fever would bring it down, so she was transferred to ICU, with the diagnosis of measles.

I watched in horror as she began to have febrile convulsions (seizures). We packed her little body with huge ice packs everywhere, increased her I.V. fluids, gave large doses of Tylenol and some Phenobarbitol (medicine used to control some types of seizures). The seizures subsided, her fever stayed steady at 42 degrees Celsius.  Suddenly at 0700 hrs, her fever came down to 40 degrees C, which sparked hope between the doctor and I. When we left work that morning, we were completely exhausted from worry, but hopeful she was on the road to recovery.

Sadly when I arrived that evening for my shift, the first thing I noticed was that the isolation room was empty. The doctor that I had worked with took me aside and told me that our patient had a cardiac arrest at 1100 hrs that morning and after 2 hours of CPR, she passed away.

Now that I am a Public Health Nurse explaining the importance of having the MMR vaccine, I sometimes tell that story to indicate how serious the measles disease can be. I will never forget how lost and helpless I felt when I was told that our patient had succumbed to the measles.

Last modified: 
Jun 18, 2019