Measles is a highly contagious viral respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and red watery eyes followed by a rash over most of the body.
Measles can be serious.
- About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized
- 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling, which could lead to brain damage
- 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care
Measles is very contagious.
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 9 out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected. Your child can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left. An infected person can spread measles to others even before knowing he/she has the disease—from four days before developing the measles rash through four days afterward.
Some people think of measles as just a little rash and fever that clears up in a few days, but measles can cause serious health complications, especially in children younger than 5 years of age. There is no way to tell in advance the severity of the symptoms your child will experience.
A highly effective vaccine has resulted in a dramatic reduction in measles cases and deaths worldwide. However, outbreaks and deaths continue to occur, primarily related to overseas travel and unvaccinated individuals.
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If you have concerns about measles please call your healthcare provider.