Facts About Measles

Measles Information for Health Care Providers

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What is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious disease that causes fever and rash. At first, measles (also known as Rubeola) looks and feels like a cold. Cough, high fever, runny nose, and red, watery eyes are common. A few days later, a red, blotchy rash starts on the face, then spreads to the rest of the body.

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Who is at risk for getting measles?

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How is measles spread?

Measles is more contagious than almost any other disease. The virus that causes measles lives in the nose and throat of infected people and is sprayed into the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks, and can stay in the air for up to two hours. People with measles can spread the disease starting four days before the rash begins until four days after it appears.

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What are the symptoms of measles?

Early symptoms include cough, runny nose and red, light-sensitive eyes. Two to four days later, a fine rash of red spots develops on the face and then gradually spreads down over the entire body. Fever, which can reach 103–105° F, comes with the rash. White spots, called Koplik spots, may appear on the inside of the cheeks.

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When do symptoms start?

The fever, runny nose, and cough usually appear 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person. However, symptoms can start anywhere from 7–21 days after exposure.

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How long is a person with measles contagious?

A person can spread measles from four days before through four days after the appearance of the rash. A person with measles should stay home from school or work while they are contagious. Special care should be taken to avoid contact with babies younger than 12–15 months (they are too young to have been vaccinated) and pregnant women.

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What do I do if I am exposed to measles?

Talk to your healthcare provider right away to see if you need a vaccination. If you have symptoms of measles, as described above, call your health care provider right away BEFORE going to the clinic or hospital.

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What is the treatment for measles?

There is no specific treatment for measles.

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How is measles diagnosed?

Because measles can look like other diseases that cause a rash, a blood test is the only way to be sure it is measles.

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What can I do to prevent measles?

The best way to protect your children is to have them vaccinated when they are 12–15 months old, and again when they are about to enter kindergarten. Measles vaccine is usually given in a shot called MMR, which also protects against mumps and rubella.

Children in Vermont are required to have two doses of measles vaccine before enrolling in Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Children 15 months and older who attend licensed childcare or preschool in Vermont are required to have one dose of the measles vaccine.

Students attending Vermont post-secondary schools are required to have two doses of measles vaccine or laboratory results proving they are immune.

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For More Information

Contact the Vermont Department of Health

Measles Information at the CDC

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