Which physical findings are characteristic of specific types of measles-associated pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Four types of measles-associated pneumonia are encountered. The first, measles-virus pneumonitis, usually appears within a few days after the onset of rash. High levels of KL6 (a glycoprotein secreted by pneumocyte-2) are markers for interstitial pneumonia and are associated with a poor prognosis.

The second form, bacterial superinfection, usually develops several days after rash appears. This type manifests with cough, fever, purulent expectoration, tachycardia, and pleural pain.

Third, giant cell pneumonia typically develops before or with the peak of viral exanthema. In rare cases, it develops after five months or longer. Rash may be absent. Cough may persist for 1-2 weeks during recovery. Lung biopsy may be needed for final diagnosis.

Fourth, pneumonia of atypical measles is described in adults. These patients developed a potentially fatal illness, with increased fever (7-14 d after exposure), minimal or absent rashes, headache, arthralgias, hepatitis, interstitial or nodular infiltrates, hilar lymphadenopathy, and occasional pleural effusions.

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