Measles is a viral infection that spreads easily. It is caused by the measles virus.
The virus is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of an infected person. Less commonly, it can be spread by droplets in the air. It is typically spread in winter and spring.
Measles was once a common childhood illness. Now, there are fewer cases of measles in the United States. This is due to the measles vaccine. But, there have been outbreaks in recent years.
You are very unlikely to get measles if you were immunized as a child. However, people who were not vaccinated or were not vaccinated enough are at increased risk.
Measles is caused by a virus. It cannot be treated with antibiotics. Efforts are focused on relieving the symptoms.
The measles vaccine consists of live measles viruses made in chicken embryo cells. The viruses found in the vaccine have been made harmless during the manufacturing process.
It is normally given in combination with:
The vaccine is given under the skin.
All children (with few exceptions) should receive the vaccine two times:
The vaccine can also be given to infants younger than 12 months who will be traveling internationally. These infants should also get the two routine shots at ages 12-15 months and 4-6 years.
Adults born after 1956 who have not been previously vaccinated may need 1-2 doses. Talk with your doctor if you were not previously vaccinated.
The majority of people who get the vaccine do not have any side effects. The most common side effects are a fever and a rash. Redness and swelling at the injection site may occur. Rare complications include:
In some cases, the vaccine should be delayed, such as:
Most children and teens should receive their vaccinations on schedule. However, certain groups should not be vaccinated:
If you have the measles, you should be isolated to stop the virus from spreading. For example, children with the measles should stay home until the virus is over.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
American Academy of Pediatrics
Vaccines & Immunizations
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Baker CJ, Pickerling LK, Chilton L, et al; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Recommended adult immunization schedule: United States, 2011. Ann Intern Med . 1 Feb 2011. 154(3):168-173.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years —United States, 2012. MMWR . 2012;61(5). Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm6105-Immunization.pdf. Accessed December 31, 2012.
Measles, mumps, and rubella: vaccine use and strategies for elimination of measles, rubella, and congenital rubella syndrome and control of mumps: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00053391.htm . Published May 22, 1998. Accessed December 31, 2012.
Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-6 years—United States, 2012. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/child/0-6yrs-schedule-pr.pdf . Published December 23, 2011. Accessed December 31, 2012.
1/31/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years—United States, 2008. MMWR . 2008;57;Q1-Q4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5701a8.htm . Updated January 10, 2008. Accessed January 28, 2008.
5/27/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Measles—United States, January—May 20, 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011 May 20 early online.
Last reviewed December 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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