PUBLIC HEALTH FACT SHEET
What is Measles?
Measles (rubeola) is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus and preventable by vaccination. Persons who have not had the disease and have not been immunized are susceptible.
How is it spread?
Persons are contagious from 4 days before to 4 days after appearance of rash. Infection usually occurs by breathing in droplets projected into the air by a person with measles.
How is it treated?
- Physicians may recommend treatments to relieve rash itching and use of acetaminophen to control fever.
- Protect eyes from strong or direct light.
How can we prevent Measles?
- Measles is a vaccine preventable disease.
- Two doses of measles vaccine combined with mumps and rubella (MMR) are recommended.
- The initial MMR is given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose is given at school entry (age 4-6).
- Unimmunized contacts to a measles case should be immunized with MMR within 72 hours after exposure—the vaccine may provide protection.
- Immune globulin may provide short term protection for susceptible contacts for whom the risk of complications of measles is very high, such as immunocompromised persons, pregnant women, or infants under 1 year of age.
SYMPTOMS OF MEASLES
- Fever (101F or higher) 3-4 days before appearance of rash
- Runny nose (coryza)
- Blotchy red rash appears 4-7 days after other symptoms.
- Rash usually starts on face and spreads to trunk and extremities
- Rash typically lasts 5-7 days