Measles is caused by a virus. It is spread by:
- Direct contact with nose or throat droplets of people who have measles, such as through kissing
- Through the air, such as through coughing and sneezing (less common)
Measles can be spread:
- 1 to 2 days before symptoms appear
- 3 to 5 days before the rash
- Up to 4 days after the rash
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent measles. It comes as a single vaccine or with:
- Mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR)
- Mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox) vaccine (MMRV)
Some people may be given a vaccine within 3 days of exposure. This can prevent or lessen symptoms.
Immune globulin may also be given to some unvaccinated people within 6 days of exposure. This is usually for infants and pregnant women.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases http://www.nfid.org
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Measles. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/measles. Accessed October 30, 2020.
Measles (rubeola). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/measles-rubeola.htm. Accessed October 30, 2020.
Measles. World Health Organization website. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/measles#tab=tab%5F1. Accessed October 30, 2020.
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