Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It is widespread in many parts of the world, with large outbreaks currently occurring in the Philippines, Ukraine, Israel, and in several countries in Western Europe. Travelers infected outside the US can spread measles the United States. Overseas measles outbreaks have led to imported cases and outbreaks in several states, including California.

Key Points and Resources

  1. Measles is  serious. Measles is caused by a virus and can be severe — and even fatal — for small children. Complications include blindness, encephalitis, dehydration (from diarrhea), and pneumonia. People who get sick with measles can suffer lifelong effects. Globally, measles causes more than 100,000 deaths each year.
  2. Measles is extremely contagious. Someone with measles can infect up to 90% of the people close to them if those people are not immune. Measles has an Ro of 12-18, the highest of any infectious communicable disease.
  3. Measles can be devastating during pregnancy. Studies suggest that measles infection is associated with an increased risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor or a low birthweight baby.
  4. Measles is sneaky. Measles virus can live up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. Infected people can transmit the virus up to four days before and four days after they have the rash. Someone can transmit measles before they even know they have it.
  5. Measles is very common in many parts of the world. Many countries, including France, Israel, and the Philippines have declared outbreaks. Travelers with measles can bring it back to the US and infect people who are not immune.
  6. Measles is preventable! The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. The two-dose series is about 97% effective at preventing measles. Because of vaccination, measles deaths have been reduced by 80% since 2000, and more than 21 million lives have been saved.

It takes a community to provide immunity. Bookmark these links and share the fliers. Let’s keep Californians protected against measles and vaccine-preventable disease. #VaccinesWork

The California Department of Public Health Immunization Branch developed two new measles tools for providers.

  1. Testing guide for California healthcare providers. Should I Test for Measles
  2. Summary of current recommendations on measles immunizations.  Measles Immunization Recommendations – May 22, 2019

Both tools can be found on the CDPH Measles Disease webpage.

Additional Important Webpages

CDPH Measles page: total reported cases to date, disease investigation resources, lab and clinical guidance, and more

CDC Measles page: info for parents and caregivers, providers, and travelers

CDC Parents: Vaccines For Your Children page: measles-specific info for parents

CDC Don’t Let Measles Be Your Travel Souvenir page: tips for travelers

Downloadable Resources CDPH 

Fever and Rash? flier for providers

Measles Alert flier for waiting rooms

Measles is Spreading flier for waiting rooms

Traveled Recently? flier for waiting rooms

Attention! You Could Have Measles flier for waiting rooms

Visiting Another Country? flier in English

Visiting Another Country? flier in Tagalog

Visiting Another Country? flier in Amharic, Hmong, Khmer, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese

CDPH Alerts and Advisories 

CDPH All Facilities Letter re Measles April 18, 2019

CDPH Health Advisory March 29, 2019