Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that causes a fever, runny nose, and severe rash. The virus is spread through a cough or sneeze by a person with measles, and can still infect others 2 hours after the infected person has left a room. Persons with measles are contagious from 4 days before until 4 days after the rash appears. The incubation period for developing measles is up to 21 days after being exposed to someone else who has the disease.
Most people who have never been immunized against or sick with the measles will get it if they have contact with the virus. A person with measles can spread the disease to others even before they have any symptoms.
Measles can cause these signs of disease:
- High Fever (over 101°F)
- Runny nose
- Red watery eyes
- A rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body
If you think that you or someone in your family has been exposed to or has measles, contact your doctor’s office right away. Tell them that you might have measles before you go, so they can take steps to prevent other patients and staff from being exposed.
Getting immunized is the best way to keep from getting and spreading measles. People should get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization if they haven’t been immunized or don’t know if they got the MMR immunization before. Kids should be immunized at 12-15 months of age and again at 4-6 years of age. Teens and adults born after 1956 who haven’t been immunized should get their MMR immunization.
If you are unsure of your immunization status or may have had contact with someone with the measles, consult with your doctor to have a test to check for measles immunity or to receive immunization. If you are ill, you should first contact your health care provider by phone so that measures can be taken to prevent spread in the doctor’s offices.
Public Health Working for You
In response to the measles cases that have occurred in Los Angeles County, Public Health has mounted effective public health strategies to control the spread of this disease, including
- Identifying contacts and protecting them with active or passive immunization when possible, as well as limiting their activities when necessary to prevent possible spread to others;
- Isolating people who are infectious to prevent the spread of measles to others;
- Strongly advising not immunized individuals to receive the measles immunization; and
- Notifying the public through postings and local media of specific public locations where measles cases have occurred.