Measles Fact Sheet -printable page
What is measles?
Measles is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that is spread by direct person-to-person contact, and through the air. The virus can live for up to two hours in the air where the infected person was present. Symptoms of measles usually begin 7-14 days after exposure, but can appear up to 21 days after exposure and may include:
- High fever (may spike to over 104°F)
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Tiny white spots on the inner cheeks, gums, and roof of the mouth (Koplik Spots) 2-3 days after symptoms begin
- A rash that is red, raised, blotchy; usually starts on the face, spreads to the trunk, arms, and legs 3 - 5 days after symptoms begin
Persons potentially exposed should watch for symptoms for 21 days after exposure. If symptoms develop, persons should not visit their doctor or hospital emergency department unless they call ahead so that heathcare providers can take precautions to prevent the exposure of other persons.
Measles vaccination is recommended for all persons born on or after January 1, 1957. Individuals should receive 2 doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine with the first dose administered at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at 4-6 years of age. Persons born on or after January 1, 1957 who have not been vaccinated or who are uncertain about their measles immunity should be vaccinated.