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What is Measles?
Measles is caused by a virus. The virus can live in your nose, mouth, eyes and on your skin. It is highly contagious, which means it spreads very easily. Measles is a highly contagious disease and is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in children worldwide.
What is my risk?
Your risk depends on several factors: destination, length of trip, and immunization history. Speak with one of our Travel Health Specialists to understand the risk of measles for your trip.
If you have not been vaccinated and have never had measles, you are at risk of infection. Measles is very contagious and easy to catch when you have contact with someone who is infected with the virus.
Travellers who are not vaccinated may bring measles into Canada. As a result, outbreaks may occur, especially in communities where people do not vaccinate their children.
How is it transmitted?
The measles virus spreads through:
- direct contact
- through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes
- on objects that were recently exposed to infected mucous or saliva (e.g. shared utensils, cups, tissues)
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms begin 7 to 18 days after exposure. You can spread the virus to others from 4 days before the rash starts until 4 days after the rash appears. The virus is most often spread when people first get sick or before they know they have measles.
Initial symptoms include:
- runny nose
- red eyes
- irritability (feeling cranky or in a bad mood)
Small, white spots may also show up inside the mouth and throat.
After 3 to 7 days, a red blotchy rash develops on the face and spreads down the body.
Can measles be treated?
There is no specific treatment for measles since it is caused by a virus. Most people fully recover within 2 or 3 weeks.
Your health care provider will likely:
- give you medication (like pain relievers) to reduce your fever
- tell you to drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods and get lots of rest
If you have measles, you should stay at home until 4 days after the rash appeared. This will help to limit the spread of the virus.
Speak with one of our Travel Health Specialists at least 6 weeks before your trip.
Get vaccinated if you are not yet immunized. As measles occurs in many parts of the world, travellers may be at increased risk.
The measles vaccine is part of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) immunization.