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, which is less common, such as through coughing and sneezing
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)
In some cases, the MMR vaccine is given within 3 days after exposure. This can prevent or lessen symptoms. Immune globulin is given to certain unvaccinated people within 6 days of exposure. This is usually for infants and pregnant women.
If you or someone in your family gets measles, people in the home may need to be vaccinated or given immune globulin.
If you are not vaccinated, avoid being around someone who has measles. Recent outbreaks have occurred in Europe and the United States. They may be due to children who are not vaccinated. Talk to your doctor about the vaccine.
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
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