Advertisement

What causes measles?

A contagious virus causes measles. The virus takes root in the mucus of a person's nose and throat. Being around an infected person may get you sick, too. When the infected person coughs, talks, or sneezes, tiny droplets that carry the virus scatter in the air where you can inhale them. Even the droplets that fall on surfaces can remain contagious up to several hours later. That is why it is best to practice good handwashing when around individuals infected by measles to prevent the spread of the disease. The measles vaccine is the best way to prevent getting measles.

The cause of measles is a virus that replicates in the nose and throat of an infected child or adult. When someone with measles coughs, sneezes or talks, infected droplets spray into the air, where other people can inhale them. The infected droplets may also land on a surface, where they remain active and contagious for several hours.

Continue Learning about Measles (Rubeola)

Americans Urged to Vaccinate as Measles Cases Hit 27-Year High
Americans Urged to Vaccinate as Measles Cases Hit 27-Year High
Confirmed measles cases in the U.S. reached a 27-year high in the first half of 2019, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) t...
Read More
How common is measles?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Most people in the United States are protected against measles through vaccination, so measles cases...
More Answers
5 Must-Know Facts About the Measles
5 Must-Know Facts About the Measles5 Must-Know Facts About the Measles5 Must-Know Facts About the Measles5 Must-Know Facts About the Measles
Get the truth about the disease that’s making headlines. 
Start Slideshow
Why Is Measles Becoming More Common?
Why Is Measles Becoming More Common?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.