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What causes measles?

Measles is caused by a virus.

How does measles spread?

Measles is spread through the air by infectious droplets and is highly contagious.

How long does it take to show signs of measles after being exposed?

It takes an average of 10-12 days from exposure to the first symptom, which is usually fever. The measles rash doesn't usually appear until approximately 14 days after exposure, 2-3 days after the fever begins.

What are the symptoms of measles?

Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, "pink eye", 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.

What are possible complications from measles?

Diarrhea is the most common complication of measles (occurring in 8% of cases), especially in young children. Ear infections occur in 7% of reported cases. Pneumonia, occurring in 6% of reported cases, accounts for 60% of measles-related deaths. Approximately one out of one thousand cases will develop acute encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. This serious complication can lead to permanent brain damage.

Measles during pregnancy increases the risk of premature labor, miscarriage, and low-birth-weight infants, although birth defects have not been linked to measles exposure.

Measles can be especially severe in persons with compromised immune systems. Measles is more severe in malnourished children, particularly those with vitamin A deficiency. In developing countries, the case-fatality rate may be as high as 25%.

How serious is measles?

Measles can be a serious disease, with 30% of reported cases experiencing one or more complications. Death from measles occurs in approximately 2 per 1,000 reported cases in the United States. Complications from measles are more common among very young children (younger than five years of age) and adults (older than 20 years of age).

    Public Health
    608 N. Court St.
    Suite A
    Carroll, IA 51401

    Suite A is located in the alley between Court St. and Clark St. behind United Bank of Iowa.

    Phone: 712-775-2660

    Fax: 712-792-0254

    [email protected]


    Office Hours:
    Monday - Friday
    8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Megan Owen-LPN
    Carey Kersey-MS, LPN

    Public Health Directors