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A potentially serious, highly infectious disease caused by a virus.
Measles is spread when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes tiny droplets (respiratory aerosols) containing the virus into the air. These droplets can stay in the air for long periods and be breathed in by another person. Measles can also be spread by contact with hands, tissues or other articles contaminated by an infected person. It takes 7–18 days (usually around 10 days) from when a person has come in contact with the virus, for the first symptoms to appear.
Most people get very sick when they have measles. Measles lowers your body’s ability to fight other diseases, especially for younger kids or those already unwell – such as with cancer. Very young babies and those who have weak immune systems often can’t be vaccinated and rely on others to protect them by getting the vaccine.
Even in countries with good medical care, deaths can occasionally occur because there is no specific treatment for the virus.
If you have any questions at all about measles or the MMR vaccine: