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revised September 04, 2015

Arrow BulletMeasles

What is Measles?

  • Measles, also known as "Red Measles" or Rubeola, is a very contagious infection caused by a virus
  • It usually occurs in young children, but anyone who is not protected can be infected with measles
  • Anyone born after 1970 who has not had measles and has not had vaccine to protect against measles can become infected.
  • Adults born before 1970 are considered immune to measles
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What are the signs & symptoms?

  • It starts with high fever, cough, runny nose, and redness of the eyes
  • Followed in 3-7 days by a red, blotchy rash usually starting on the face and then moving to the body
  • Small, white spots in the mouth (Koplik spots) may also appear, these symptoms last about 5 days
  • Measles is more severe in infants and adults than in children
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What are the complications?

  • Ear infections
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)
  • Encephalitis (swelling/inflammation of the brain)
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How does it spread?

  • A person who is infected with measles can spread the virus to others through coughing or sneezing
  • The measles virus can also live outside the body (e.g., on surfaces and door handles) for up to two hours
  • Measles is easily spread from person to person
  • A person with measles can spread the disease from 4 days before to 4 days after the onset of rash
  • Symptoms usually appear 8 to 14 days after exposure to a person with measles but may take as long as 21 days
  • A person can only spread measles when infected
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How can measles be prevented?

  • The MMR vaccine protects against 3 diseases: measles, mumps and rubella
  • Since 1996, immunization with 2 doses of measles vaccine is required by law for all children under 18 years of age attending school in Ontario
  • The first dose must be given on or after the first birthday
  • The second dose should be given between 4-6 years of age given as a combined MMR and varicella (chicken pox) vaccine at 4-6 years of age; prior to starting school.
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What should I do if I have measles?

  • If you have symptoms of measles, call your doctor before going to the doctor's office as it is important that the infection is not passed on
  • To confirm measles the diagnostic tests required are nasopharyngeal and/or a throat swab, blood tests and urine collection.
  • Anyone with measles or suspected measles will be excluded from school until the fifth day from when the rash started
  • People who are not fully immunized against measles will be excluded from school if a case of measles is identified in their school
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How is Measles treated?

  • There is no specific treatment for measles
  • Supportive care in hospital may be needed for severe infections but most people infected with measles can recover at home
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What is Peel Public Health's role?

  • All suspect or confirmed cases of measles must be reported to the health department
  • Measles may still occur in Canada because of inadequate immunization
  • Exposure may occur by being infected abroad or by contact with a foreign visitor from parts of the world where measles is common
  • Contacts of cases are assessed for proof of immunization or immunity
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Where can I get my MMR vaccine?

  • For more information on getting the MMR vaccine, contact your local Walk-In-Clinic (PDF 27 KB) or speak to your doctor.
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Revised: September 04, 2015


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