Measles is a very serious and contagious disease caused by a virus. It can spread quickly through the air from an infected person when they cough or sneeze.
Measles causes a red blotchy rash, high fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes. See below for more information about measles disease.
Most people recover fully from measles within 2 to 3 weeks, but measles can be dangerous, especially for infants, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.
Complications from measles disease can include:
- Ear infections
- Pneumonia (lung infection)
- Encephalitis (swelling of the brain), which can cause seizures, brain damage or death
Immunization is the best way to protect against getting measles. Measles containing vaccines are safe and extremely effective.
Two doses of vaccine are almost 100% protective. Because of immunization, measles is now a very rare disease in Canada, but outbreaks still occur. Most cases occur in susceptible people born in 1970 or later who have not received two doses of measles vaccine and were in the same room as someone with measles. Most at risk are Canadians who travel overseas (to areas with lower immunization rates) or to areas with outbreaks.
If you have symptoms of measles or think you were close to someone with measles, call your health care provider as soon as possible. Describe your symptoms over the phone before your appointment so the clinic can arrange to see you without exposing others to measles.