by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Measles is an infection that spreads quickly. It causes a fever and rash. It was once common in children. It is now less common in the United States due to the use of the measles vaccine.
Measles is caused by a virus. It is spread by:
Measles can be spread:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Measles symptoms start 10 to 12 days after exposure. They are:
Symptoms improve 7 to 10 days from the start of the rash.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. This is enough to make the diagnosis.
Measles is caused by a virus. It cannot be treated with antibiotics.
The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms until the virus passes. Choices are:
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent measles. It comes as a single vaccine or with:
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.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Public Health Agency of Canada
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:
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Accessed October 30, 2020.
Measles. World Health Organization website. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/measles#tab=tab_1. Accessed October 30, 2020.
Moss WJ. Measles. Lancet. 2017 Dec 2;390(10111):2490-2502.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 4/30/2021