Measles

Important Information on Measles

For any further information on measles or other communicable diseases, contact your community health nurse or nearest public health unit.

Don’t know where your nearest Public Health Unit is located? Public Health Unit Finder: http://www.immunizebc.ca/finder

Click on www.HealthLinkBC.ca or call 8-1-1 for non-emergency health information and services in BC.

 Is it an emergency?
 If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

 
Measles
 
Measles is a very serious and contagious illness. The measles virus can spread through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. Symptoms include cough, fever, runny nose and inflamed eyes, as well as a red rash that appears on the face, neck, arms and legs. Because of immunization, measles is now a rare disease in Canada. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against measles. When you get immunized, you help protect others as well. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is provided free as part of your child’s routine immunizations. Call your health care provider to make an appointment.
 
Measles Vaccine
The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine provides protection against measles and is provided free as part of your child's routine immunizations. The vaccine is also provided free to others that need protection against measles.
 
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #14a)
 
Information below from Healthlinkbc.ca:  http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile14b.stm
  
What is measles?                   
How is measles spread?
What are the symptoms?
What if I have been exposed to measles?
What should I do if I think I have measles?
How can I prevent spreading measles to others?
What is the home treatment?
  
Acetaminophen or Tylenol® can be given for fever or soreness. ASA or Aspirin® should NOT be given to anyone under 20 years of age due to the risk of Reye Syndrome
  
Partner Websites
To learn more about measles in your area, visit our partner websites below:
 
Fraser Health
Interior Health
Island Health
Northern Health
Vancouver Coastal
 
BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. They provide provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, prevention and consultation. They also provide direct diagnostic and treatment services to people with diseases that may affect the health of the public. To learn more about measles and the measles vaccine, visit the web pages listed below.
 
Measles
Measles Vaccine
 
Immunize BC
ImmunizeBC works to improve the health of British Columbians and reduce the number of infections by vaccine-preventable diseases by providing information on immunizations to individuals, families, and health care providers. Immunization can save lives. Learn more about common vaccines, who should get them, and why it is so important to get all of your vaccines on time.
 
Immunize BC
 
Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
The Public Health Agency of Canada is the Federal Agency responsible for promoting health, preventing and controlling chronic diseases and injuries, preventing and controlling infectious diseases, and preparing and responding to public health emergencies. For more information about measles, including how it spreads and how it can be prevented, visit the web page listed below.
 
Measles
  
Want to learn more?

  
What is measles?
PDF - English
 
Measles, also known as red measles, is a severe illness caused by the measles virus.
Measles can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, which can lead to seizures, deafness, or brain damage. One person in every 3,000 with measles may die from complications. Complications and death are most common in infants less than 12 months of age and in adults.

Complications of measles can include:
 
Ear infections - 1 in 10 cases
Diarrhea - 8 in 100 cases
Pneumonia - 1 in 10 cases
Hospital stay - 1 to 2 in 10 cases
Encephalitis - 1 in every 1,000 cases.
 
Measles is a very serious and contagious illness. The measles virus can spread through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. Symptoms include cough, fever, runny nose and inflamed eyes, as well as a red rash that appears on the face, neck, arms and legs.
 
Because of immunization, measles is now a rare disease in Canada. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against measles. When you get immunized, you help protect others as well. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is provided free as part of your child’s routine immunizations. Call your health care provider to make an appointment. If you are travelling to a country where measles is common, you can be vaccinated through a travel health clinic. To find a travel health clinic near you, visit the HealthLink BC Directory​.
 
For more information about measles and vaccinations, call 8-1-1 or follow the links below.
  

Measles Vaccines

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine provides protection against measles and is provided free as part of your child's routine immunizations. The vaccine is also provided free to others that need protection against measles.
 
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #14a)
Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella (MMRV) Vaccine (HealthLinkBC File #14e)
  

How is measles spread?

Measles is very contagious and spreads easily. When an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes, the virus spreads through the air. The measles virus can survive in small droplets in the air for several hours. You can become infected when you breathe in these droplets or touch objects contaminated with the virus. The airborne spread of measles virus makes the disease very contagious. Sharing food, drinks or cigarettes, or kissing someone who has the virus can also put you at risk.
 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and red and inflamed eyes that are often sensitive to light. These symptoms are followed by a rash, which starts first on the face and neck, and spreads to the chest, arms and legs, and lasts at least 3 days. A health care provider may notice small white spots inside your mouth. Symptoms can start as soon as 7 days after a person is infected with the measles virus. A person with measles can spread the virus to others from 5 days before to 4 days after their rash first appears.
 

What if I have been exposed to measles?

If you have been exposed to the measles virus and have not had the disease or received 2 doses of a measles vaccine, you should get the MMR vaccine to prevent the illness. You need to get the vaccine within 72 hours after exposure in order to be protected against the measles virus. If the vaccine can not be given in time or it is not recommended that you receive the vaccine, you may be given immune globulin for protection. Immune globulin contains antibodies taken from donated human blood. Antibodies are proteins that a person's immune system makes to fight germs, such as viruses or bacteria. Immune globulin provided within 6 days of being exposed to measles can protect against measles infections or make the illness less severe.
 
For more information, see HealthLink BC File #63 Immune Globulin
 

What should I do if I think I have measles?

If you have fever and a rash and think you may have measles, especially if you have been in contact with someone with measles or traveled to an area with a measles outbreak, have yourself examined by a health care professional. It is best to call ahead so that you can be seen quickly and without infecting other people. Measles can spread easily in places like waiting rooms and emergency rooms. The doctor or triage nurse can make sure that you are taken into a closed area for an examination and attend the clinic at a time when the waiting room is empty. Bring your immunization record with you. A physical examination, blood test, and throat swab or urine sample will be collected to make the diagnosis of measles.
 

How can I prevent spreading measles to others?

The measles virus can be spread for up to 4 days after the rash appears. If you have measles you can help prevent spreading it to others by:
 
• Staying at home for at least 4 days after the rash first appeared.
• Washing your hands regularly.
• Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or sleeve rather than your hands.
• Not sharing food, drinks or cigarettes, or kissing others.
 



What is the home treatment?

After seeing a health care provider, the following home treatment tips may help you to be more comfortable while you rest and recover. Drink plenty of fluids such as water, juice and soup, especially if you have a fever. Get plenty of rest.