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Measles Basics and Symptoms

Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. Measles starts with a fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can be serious for young children. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death.

Measles is very contagious. Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her can also become infected if they are not protected. 

Your child can still get measles in United States. Most people in this country are protected against measles through vaccination.  However, measles can spread quickly in communities where people are not vaccinated. That’s why it is so important to be up to date on vaccinations, including before traveling abroad.

If you feel you or your child might have the measles, please contact your health provider before arriving and advise them of your measles concern, so they can appropriately schedule your appointment and utilize infection control precautions.

Protect your Child with Measles Vaccine

You have the power to protect your child against measles with a safe and effective vaccine. You can protect your child against measles with a combination vaccine that provides protection against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The MMR vaccine is proven to be very safe and effective. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children get two doses:

  • the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and
  • the second dose before entering school at 4 through 6 years of age.

If you travel with your infant, CDC has additional measles vaccine recommendations. Check with your local pediatrician to learn more.  

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. If you don’t have insurance or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, contact DCPH to learn more about eligibility and clinic hours.  

Learn More

English: Measles - Fact Sheet for Parents

Español: Sarampión - Información para los padres



Resources for Health Care Professionals:

Due to the highly communicable nature of measles, and the recent increase in cases both locally and nationally, DCPH advises clinicians to follow the below recommendations.

DCPH requests that all clinicians consider measles in the initial differential diagnosis of patients presenting with the following symptoms, particularly those who have traveled abroad, come into contact with known measles cases, or have a non-immune status to measles:

  • Fever, typically ≥ 101°F (38.3°C)
  • Generalized maculopapular rash lasting ≥ 3 days, usually beginning in the face and spreading to the trunk
  • Cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis or Koplic spots

Please take appropriate infection control precautions and immediately report suspected cases to DCPH at (940) 349-2909. It is preferred that contact be made while the patient is present in the clinical setting in order to facilitate testing and initiate the public health investigation, including follow-up of potential exposures.

Infection Control Precautions

In urgent/emergency healthcare settings, suspected cases should be triaged quickly from waiting areas, with airborne isolation precautions recommended. In outpatient settings, suspected cases should be scheduled at the end of the day, if feasible. Use of airborne infection control precautions is recommended for health care workers caring for patients with suspected measles.

Healthcare facilities are reminded to review the measles immune status of all health-care workers. All healthcare personnel should have documented evidence of measles immunity on file at their work location.