Measles (Rubeola) is caused by a virus and is very easily passed from person to person. Generally, infections run their course in one to two weeks, but more serious infections may develop into pneumonia or even inflammation of the brain, resulting in permanent damage or death. Widespread immunization programs have reduced the incidence of measles in many developed countries, but the risk of exposure to measles outside of the U.S. may be high, especially in developing countries. All travelers need to ensure they are up to date on their childhood immunizations, including measles, prior to travel. 


Signs and Symptoms of Measles

  • Incubation period seven to 21 days
  • High fever
  • Rash, starting on the face and spreading downward
  • Cough
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Ear infection
  • Pneumonia


Prevention of Measles

The only prevention for measles is immunization.


Employees of the Red Cross Society unload boxes of measles vaccines.

Measles vaccine contains live, weakened measles virus. It is available as a single preparation or as a combination vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). In general, persons can be considered immune to measles if they have documentation of physician-diagnosed measles, laboratory evidence of measles immunity, or proof of two doses of live measles vaccine on or after their first birthday. Most people born before 1957 are likely to have had the disease, and generally are not to be considered susceptible.


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