If you are not immune and are in close contact with someone who has measles, there is an up to 90% chance you will catch the disease.1
Risk areas for Measles
By breathing in tiny droplets spread by the coughs and sneezes of people infected with the measles virus.1 The virus survives up to two 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.1 People with the infection can spread the virus up to four days before or after the appearance of the rash.
Measles vaccination significantly reduced deaths worldwide. But measles is still common in developing countries, especially in parts of Africa and Asia. Parts of Europe are also affected (see map).2,3
Coughs, sneezes and a runny or blocked nose; sore eyes; fever; patchy red rash, usually spreading from the head and neck to the rest of the body.4
In most cases, the symptoms last about a week.4 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).5
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.1
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles. Transmission of Measles. November 2020. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/transmission.html (Last accessed May 2023)
- World Health Organization. Immunization data. Provisional measles and rubella data. Global Measles and Rubella Monthly Update. 2023. Available online: http://who-wiise-frontend-prod-cdn.azureedge.net/listing.html?topic=measles-rubella&location= (Last accessed May 2023)
- World Health Organisation. Factsheets. Measles. March 2023. Available online: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/measles (Last accessed May 2023)
- Conditions. Measles. February 2022. Available online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/ (Last accessed May 2023)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles. Complications of Measles. November 2020. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/symptoms/complications.html (Last accessed May 2023)
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