What is measles?
- Measles (Rubeola) is a very contagious virus that can cause serious illness.
- You can get measles just by being in the same room with someone who is infected with measles.
- Measles spreads through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes, or through nose or throat secretions.
- Measles can cause very serious illness. Complications from measles may lead to a permanent disability, such as hearing loss, or—in a very small proportion of cases—death.
- There is no treatment for measles. Antibiotics do not work because measles is caused by a virus, not bacteria. The best way to prevent measles is to get the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Who is at risk?
People of any age can get measles. In the U.S., most cases are in unvaccinated infants, children, and teens. Adults at increased risk include college students, international travelers, and health care workers.
Thanks to the measles vaccine, the disease has nearly disappeared in the U.S. Vaccines greatly reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. If you are immune to a disease, that means your body is protected from developing the infection.
Unlike in the U.S., measles is common in many parts of the world. Recent outbreaks have been linked to unvaccinated travelers bringing the disease from another country and then spreading it others who are not immune.
What can you do to prevent measles?
- Get vaccinated! The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. If you are not sure if you or your loved ones have been fully vaccinated against measles, call your doctor.
- Stay home when you are sick.