Measles (Rubeola)

Measles FAQs

What is measles? Infographic: Protect your child from measles. Measles is still common in many parts of the world. Unvaccinated travelers who get measles in other countries continue to bring the disease into the United States. Give your child the best protection against measles with two doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Opens in new window
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the body. Make sure you and your child are protected with measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.[1] 

How is measles spread?
Measles can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears.[2] 9 out of 10 people who aren't vaccinated for measles will get it if they are near an infected person.[3]

What are the symptoms of measles? Measles: It Isn’t Just a Little Rash Infographic Opens in new window
The symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected. Measles typically begins with[4]

  • high fever,
  • cough,
  • runny nose (coryza), and
  • red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis).

Who is most at risk for measles?
Infants and children below the age of 5, pregnant women, people taking medicines that suppress the immune system, people with a disease that affects the immune systems, and those not vaccinated. 

How do I protect my child from measles?
You can protect your child against measles with a combination vaccine that provides protection against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The MMR vaccine is proven to be very safe and effective. CDC recommends that children get one dose at each of the following ages[5]:

  • 12 through 15 months
  • 4 through 6 years

How do I get help for my child?
Call the doctor right away if you think that your child has measles. There is no specific medical treatment for measles. To help manage symptoms:

  • give your child plenty of fluids
  • encourage extra rest
  • give a non-aspirin fever medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen if a fever makes your child uncomfortable. 

Kids with measles should be closely watched by a doctor. In some cases, measles can lead to other problems, such as:

Children with measles should be kept away from others for 4 days after their rash appears. For those with a weakened immune system, this should continue until they make a full recovery and all symptoms are gone.[3]

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Sources Think Measles. Guidelines for Patient evaluation, Diagnosis and Management.