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Measles illustration

What is measles?

Highly unpleasant virus which infects travellers all over the world, causing cold-like symptoms, a fever, sore eyes and a blotchy rash. It can sometimes infect the lungs and brain, causing pneumonia and encephalitis.

Measles illustration

Risk areas for Measles

Map of risk areas for Measles
  • Key fact

    If you have not been vaccinated and are in close contact with someone who has measles, there is an up to 90% chance you will catch the disease.2

  • How do you get measles?

    By breathing in tiny droplets spread by the coughs and sneezes of people infected with the measles virus.2 The virus survives for a few hours on surfaces and in the air, so can also be picked up on the hands and then carried to the mouth, nose and eyes.2 People with the infection can spread the virus up to four days before or after the appearance of the rash.2

  • Which countries are affected by measles?

    Measles is rare in countries with effective programmes to vaccinate children.1 But measles cases are on the rise in some areas which used to have low rates (see map).3

    This is because scares about vaccination have made some parents reluctant to vaccinate their children, even though the evidence does not support these concerns.

  • What are the symptoms of measles?

    Coughs, sneezes and a runny nose; sore eyes; fever; patchy red rash, usually spreading from the head and neck to the rest of the body.1

  • How serious is measles?

    In most cases, the symptoms last no more than 7-10 days.1 But occasionally there are severe complications such as pneumonia (up to 1 in 20 children) and inflammation of the brain, known as encephalitis (up to 1 in 1,000 children).4

  • Can I prevent getting measles?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
    • Avoid contact with people who have measles since the disease is highly infectious.2

Ready to get started? Check now for your nearest travel health clinic.

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* This list is not exhaustive and other travel health providers are available.

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  1. Conditions. Measles. August 2018. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles. Transmission of Measles. November 2020. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  3. World Health Organization. Immunization Monitoring. Measles Reported Cases. October 2020. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles. Complications of Measles. November 2020. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)

UK-BOTB-2100031 May 2021