Measles is a highly contagious disease that affects both adults and children, often severely. Travelers who are unvaccinated are especially at risk for getting measles and spreading it to others.
Measles is highly contagious. Measles spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. If you are unvaccinated and are exposed to someone with measles, your chance of infection is about 90 percent.
Measles affects both adults and children. Measles is a serious disease in children, and the risk of complications is highest in children younger than 5 years old. Adults can easily be infected with measles as well, and both adults and children can spread the disease to others before they are aware of any symptoms. About 1 in 4 measles cases require hospitalization, and one or two of every 1,000 measles cases results in death.
Most Mississippians are well protected against measles. Immunization against measles is required before entering school in Mississippi. More than 99 percent of Mississippi school-age children have received a complete dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which provides excellent protection against measles.
Children less than 12 months old are too young to be protected by measles vaccination. They are highly vulnerable to measles and complications from the disease.
If you received both doses of the MMR series of vaccinations as a child, you are well protected. You do not need to take further protective steps for yourself.
Unvaccinated adults should receive the MMR vaccine to protect themselves and others. Adults as well as children benefit from vaccination against measles. Contact your doctor or a county health department to arrange vaccination.
To find out your vaccination status or that of a child, contact your doctor or a county health department near you. County health department contact information.
Travelers who visit areas of the world where measles is prevalent can easily contract the disease, return home, and spread it to others who are unvaccinated. Declining vaccination rates in many parts of the U.S. and overseas are making this more likely. If you are planning to travel, make sure that your vaccination history includes the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.
Measles is spread to others through coughing and sneezing. The measles virus can also live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe this contaminated air, or touch an infected surface and then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected.
Symptoms of measles: The symptoms of measles generally appear about seven to 14 days after a person is infected. Measles typically begins with:
- high fever
- runny nose
- red, watery eyes
- tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth two or three days after symptoms begin.
Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, torso, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may merge as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may rise to more than 104° Fahrenheit.
Contagiousness: Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears.