By Measles & Rubella Initiative

Measles is highly contagious


Public Domain_US Gov.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus and spread through coughing and sneezing. 90% of people coming in contact with an infected person will become infected if they are not already immune. Immunity is achieved by either having been vaccinated or having previously contracted the disease. Symptoms include a high fever, severe skin rash, cough and sensitivity to light.

In 2000, prior to the formation of the Measles & Rubella Initiative, more than 500,000 children died worldwide from measles complications each year. About 30% of reported measles cases have complications like pneumonia, blindness, diarrhea and encephalitis. These debilitating effects are most common in children under five and adults over the age of twenty.

 There is no specific treatment for measles

Most patients will recover with rest and supportive treatment. Treatments for the symptoms include ibuprofen to reduce fever and pain and fluids.

With the introduction of vaccines around the world, by 2012 the death rate had been cut significantly, but still kills about 122,000 children – mostly children less than five years old. Measles can be completely prevented with two doses of a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine. Avoid measles parties.1

A recent outbreak of measles cases has been linked to a popular theme park. The strain of measles in the California cases has been matched to the strain circulating in the Philippines. Stephen Cochi, senior advisor with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “That virus has spread around the world.” From his experience tracking previous measles outbreaks in the U.S., Cochi says the source was probably an American. “It’s really traveling Americans who are unvaccinated, then return to the U.S. with the virus, who are causing most of the current out-breaks.” 2


Billie Nicholson, Editor
February 2015

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