Advertisement

What is measles?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Measles is a viral illness that was once common among children in the United States. Though contagious, measles can be easily prevented through vaccination. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a distinctive rash that first begins on the face and neck. If an infected person is in otherwise good health, measles is usually not serious and typically lasts a little more than a week. Some people, however, contract other infections, like pneumonia, while fighting off measles. These infections can pose a more serious health risk.

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection, usually transmitted by breathing contaminated air coughed out by an infected person. Measles produces various cold-like symptoms, fever, and a characteristic rash. The disease is rarely serious, but its complications can be serious—pneumonia, other bacterial infections and even encephalitis (infection of the brain).

Per the Mayo Clinic, measles is a childhood infection caused by a virus. Once quite common, measles can now almost always be prevented with a vaccine. Signs and symptoms of measles include cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes, sore throat, fever and a red, blotchy skin rash. Measles can be serious and even fatal for small children. While death rates have been falling worldwide as more children receive the measles vaccine, the disease still kills more than 100,000 people a year, most under the age of five.

Continue Learning about Measles (Rubeola)

Measles Outbreaks Should Be a Wakeup Call
Measles Outbreaks Should Be a Wakeup Call
For parents who haven’t gotten their kids vaccinated, here’s a wakeup call: Measles outbreaks are on the rise. In 2019, confirmed cases in the United...
Read More
How serious is measles?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Complications from measles can be serious. They occur more commonly in children younger than 5 years...
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.