Alternative Names


Definition of Measles

Measles is a very contagious (easily spread) illness caused by a virus.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The infection is spread by contact with droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of an infected person. Sneezing and coughing can put contaminated droplets into the air.


Symptoms usually begin 8 – 12 days after you are exposed to the virus. This is called the incubation period.


There is no specific treatment for the measles.

Expectations (prognosis)

Those who do not have complications such as pneumonia do very well.


Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 7/26/2010

Measles, Koplik spots - close-up
Measles on the back

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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