Measles is a very contagious disease caused by the measles virus. Measles spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or shares food or drinks. The measles virus can remain in the air of a room for up to two hours. This means that if you're not immune, you can get measles if you're in the same place as someone who has the virus even if that person doesn't cough or sneeze directly on you. Measles can cause ear infection, hearing loss, pneumonia, seizures (jerking or staring), brain damage, and even death.
Before the measles vaccine was introduced, measles caused about 400 deaths in the U.S. each year. A person who hasn't been immunized will most likely get measles if exposed.
- Red, watery eyes
- Runny nose
These symptoms last about three days. Then, small white spots will appear on the inside of the mouth and a rash begins, usually on the face. This red, raised rash spreads rapidly over the neck, upper arms, and chest. Later, it spreads over the back, abdomen, rest of the arms, thighs, legs, and feet. The illness lasts 7 to 10 days.
- Measles (Rubeola)
Age groups at risk
- All age groups. A person who hasn't been immunized will most likely get measles if exposed.
- Overview of Measles Disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- MMR Vaccine (Department of Health)
Vaccine Information Statements
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella & Varicella (MMRV) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)