• Severe illness caused by a virus

Signs and Symptoms

  • Symptoms occur within  7-21 days after a person has been exposed
  • The first symptoms are a high fever, aches and pains, runny nose, red swollen eyes and cough.
  • Koplik’s spots, which are small bluish white spots, may also be seen inside the mouth.
  • Four days into the fever, all these symptoms will be worse and a rash appears with bright red, raised, large spots.
  • The rash starts on the face then spreads down over the body to the arms and legs. The rash begins to fade after about a week.
  • The total illness lasts on average 7-14 days.


  • Measles is spread easily from person to person – over 90% of persons exposed at home to a child with measles will catch it!
  • Measles is an airborne disease that is spread simply by breathing in air that contains the measles virus. Measles virus can live in the air for up to two hours where a person has coughed or sneezed.
  • It may also be spread by direct contact with nose or throat droplets of infected person.
  • A person with measles is contagious from Four days before to four days after the rash appears.


  • There is no specific treatment for measles
  • Close contacts of an individual with measles should have their immunization status assessed


  • It is often complicated by diarrhea, ear infection, croup (a condition resulting from blocked airways), pneumonia , or encephalitis (brain swelling).
  • Measles can also cause death.


  • To prevent measles, get your child immunized with the measles vaccine (MMR) .  All children should get the vaccine as soon as possible after their first birthday and a booster at age 4-6 years before the child starts school.
  • All Ontarians should ensure they are fully vaccinated against measles, especially before travelling

If you think you have measles, please call ahead to warn your health care provider before going, so they can make sure to protect other patients.

Anyone with measles must stay away from day care, school and work for at least 4 days after the appearance of the rash.

Measles is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Local Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.