What is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by the measles virus.

How is measles spread?

Measles is spread through air when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can survive in the air for up to two hours. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 9 out of 10 people around him will become infected if they are not protected. A person can spread measles from four days before developing the measles rash to four days after the rash starts. That means you can spread measles before knowing you have it.

What are the symptoms of measles?

Measles usually starts with a cough, cold-like symptoms, red eyes and a fever. These symptoms are followed 3 to 4 days later by a rash that begins on the face and spreads all over the body. An infected person may also experience Koplik spots in their mouths (small bluish white spots).

What are the risks of measles?

Complications of measles can be serious. One out of 10 cases will have infections of the ear or lungs (pneumonia). Encephalitis (swelling of the brain) occurs in about 1 of every 1,000 cases. Encephalitis can cause seizures, deafness or permanent brain damage. One person in every 3,000 with measles dies of complications. Complications and deaths are most common in infants less than 12 months of age.

How can I prevent getting measles?  

The best way to not get measles is to get the MMR (measles mumps and rubella) vaccine. Measles is combined with mumps and rubella to give protection against several diseases with one shot. The MMR vaccine is safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get the disease. When you get immunized you help protect others as well.

Who should get the measles vaccine?

The measles vaccine is free and is given to children as a series of two doses. The first dose is given at 12 months of age; a second dose is given starting at four years of age. Older children and adults can receive the vaccine if they have not completed a two dose series and have no history of disease.

Get immunized against measles by making an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist (for those 5 years and older) or Public Health.

To book an immunization appointment with Public Health:

Residents of Fraser East (Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope), call 604-702-4906

Residents in any other area of Fraser Health, call 604-476-7087 


For more information about measles and the MMR vaccine, go to: 

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