What is it?
Measles is a serious highly contagious viral disease
It is the leading cause worldwide of vaccine-preventable deaths in children
What are the symptoms?
Fever, cough, runny nose and red, inflamed eyes and a rash that appears on the face and then spreads over the chest, arms and legs
The rash lasts at least 3 days
Measles can be severe and sometimes requires hospitalization
About 10% of people infected will experience ear infections, diarrhea and pneumonia
Measles can also cause blindness and encephalitis (brain swelling)
Symptoms start 7-12 days after someone is infected
How can I contract measles?
By inhaling small air-borne droplets of the measles virus or by touching objects contaminated with the virus
Measles is usually contagious from 5 days before until 4 days after the rash appears
Where can I contract measles?
Measles is a global disease but is found more commonly in areas where vaccine rates are low, more commonly in developing countries
What vaccines are available?
Children born in Canada received the measles vaccine as part of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) immunization
Since 1996 children get the MMR vaccine in 2 doses, the first at age 1, the second at age 5
Before 1996 only 1 dose was given so some adults should get a second dose to ensure immunity
How many shots will I need?
In British Columbia, it is recommended that people born after 1956 get 2 doses of the vaccine unless it is known that they had the actual disease in which case immunity is lifelong
How can I prevent measles?
Vaccination is the only effective way to prevent it
What is the treatment?
There is no treatment for measles other than supportive and symptomatic measures