What are Koplik Spots?

Article Details
  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The longest lightning bolt ever recorded stretched 199.5 miles (321 km) -- nearly the entire length of Oklahoma.  more...

October 18 ,  1867 :  The US bought Alaska from Russia.  more...

Koplik spots are tiny grayish-white spots that look like grains of sands with a reddish ring around them. They often appear in the mouth of children infected with measles. These Koplik spots are mostly seen on the lining of the inner cheek, called the buccal mucosa, particularly along the opposite side of the lower molars. When Koplik spots are present, it is almost always indicative of measles infection.

Measles is caused by the rubeola virus from the Paramyxoviridae family. It is considered as one of the most contagious childhood diseases. Spread of the virus is through sneezing, coughing, and direct contact with the secretions of infected people. The virus can usually survive outside the body for up to two hours, remaining active in the air and on surfaces touched by infected persons. Infected individuals also become contagious days before the rashes appear or during the early stage of the infection, often before measles is even diagnosed, and they remain infectious many days after the appearance of the characteristic rash.


Infection with measles usually occurs in children between the ages of five and ten, although it can also appear in adults who haven't been vaccinated. Following exposure to an infected individual, the virus incubates inside the body for a period of 10 to 12 days. After the incubation period, mild symptoms manifest, like cough, red eyes or conjunctivitis, sensitivity to light or photophobia, runny nose and fever, frequently followed by the appearance of Koplik spots on the buccal mucosa. Koplik spots disappear rapidly, usually after 18 hours.

Koplik spots are not, in and of themselves, dangerous and do not require specific treatment. They are a clear indicator of measles, however, and they are often used as an early diagnostic indicator of the disease. As conjunctivitis, runny nose, and fever are common signs of many different diseases, Koplik spots are an important early symptom, and are found in a majority of measles patients who are diagnosed early.

Measles can be mild in most children, but malnourished children and those with compromised immune system, due to AIDS or other diseases, usually manifest with complications like pneumonia, blindness, encephalitis, or swelling of the brain and sometimes death. Having measles during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage and low birth weight babies. Pediatricians recommend the vaccination of children 12 to 15 months old in order to prevent the spread of measles in the community. Children and adults who experience measles become immune to the virus and will not contract the illness again.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 2

@manykitties2 - From what I have read it is apparently pretty rare to get the measles after you have been vaccinated, but it does happen often enough that doctors suggest you keep an eye out for symptoms when your children get sick. As most people will agree, Koplik spots are pretty easy to see.

I feel that a lot of vaccinations work in most people but there are always those few that get the illness anyway. One can be assured that vaccinations really do stop outbreaks from occurring during the school year.

I am always surprised when parents refuse to immunize their kids believing that the risks out weight the benefits. While I know there are serious side effects to vaccinations, they are few and far between. Plus, what happens when children don't get vaccinated? I really think it makes things like measles break out even faster.

Post 1

One of the memories I have of childhood was my mom stopping me when I was coughing like crazy to have a look in my mouth. At the time I didn't know she was looking for Koplik spots but they are apparently one of the easiest markers of the measles that anyone can spot.

I unfortunately had the spots and got hauled off to the doctor. I spent a few weeks at home recovering because my mom didn't want me to infect the other children at school. Although, I did actually get it from a classmate who passed it around to a few other kids.

I am not sure why it spread so fast as I thought I had shots for measles, but I guess even if you are vaccinated you can still catch it.

Does anyone know how common it is to get measles after you have been immunized?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?