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About Measles

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus. It lives in the mucus in the nose and throat of infected people.

Measles is very easy to spread. It can spread from sneezes or coughs, and droplets that spray into the air. The virus can stay in the air or live on surfaces for up to 2 hours. It can be spread from about 4 days before a rash starts to 4 days afterward.

Symptoms of measles

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever

  • Red eyes

  • Runny nose

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Rash


Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best protection against the measles. It is safe for use, and widely used in the U.S. since 1968. Ask your healthcare provider if you need the MMR vaccine.   

Generally, no vaccination is needed if:

  • Your blood tests show you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella.

  • You already had 2 doses of MMR vaccine or 1 dose of MMR plus a second dose of measles vaccine.

  • You already had 1 dose of MMR and are not at high risk of measles exposure.

  • You were born before 1957.

  • You entered military service in 1980 or later and were immunized on entry to the service.

Pregnant women should not receive the MMR vaccine. Women should not become pregnant for 28 days following the receipt of the MMR vaccine or any of its components.

If you work in a medical, school, or residential setting, talk with your occupational/employee health office or healthcare provider about whether or not you need the MMR vaccine.

Know if you or others in your family have been vaccinated or have had the measles. And get your children vaccinated. You should also:

  • Stay away from anyone who may have the measles.

  • Wash your hands often.

  • Keep surfaces clean.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes.

For more information

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 6/1/2019
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