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What is it?

A virus also called rubeola. It can lead to hearing loss, breathing problems, pneumonia, brain damage, and death.


Fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, watery/mattering eyes, and a rash. The rash usually lasts 5-6 days and begins at the hairline, moves to the face and upper neck, and proceeds down the body. It generally takes 8-12 days from exposure to the first symptom, which is usually fever. The measles rash usually appears 2-3 days after the fever begins.

How does it spread?

Through the air by infectious droplets and is highly contagious.



  • First dose, 12-15 months of age; second dose, 4-6 years.
  • Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.
  • For those who travel abroad, CDC recommends that all U.S. residents older than 6 months receive the MMR vaccine prior to departure.

Disease and vaccine impact

In 2019, there were 1,282 measles cases confirmed in 31 states. This happened two decades after measles was declared eliminated in 2000. Of those measles cases, 128 were hospitalized, and 61 reported having complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.

According to Greg Wallace, MD, lead of the measles, mumps, rubella, and polio team at the CDC, two doses of MMR are 97 percent effective against infection.

Here is how that could play out in real life:

  • In a group of 1,000 people concentrated in a small space (like an amusement park), about 900 of them will be vaccinated (hopefully).
  • Measles is highly contagious, so of the 100 people who aren’t vaccinated, about 90 will get infected.
  • Of the 900 people who are vaccinated, 3 percent — 27 people — will get infected because they don’t have full immunity. When those people go about their lives, they risk further spreading the infection.