Measles is a very infectious viral disease that starts with a high fever and respiratory symptoms (one or more of the following: runny nose, cough, red eyes and small white spots inside the mouth). Three or four days after catching measles a red blotchy rash appears, starting on the neck and face, then spreading over the entire body. The rash is not itchy and fades during the first week. A person with measles looks and feels unwell.
Measles is more serious in young infants and in older adults, as well as people with low immunity. Measles is also more serious in children who are malnourished, especially in those who are low in vitamin A.
About one in three people with Measles will experience: ear infections, pneumonia, croup, bronchitis or diarrhoea. Serious nervous system complications can also occur, but are very rare.
Spread of measles can occur from coughing and sneezing or through contact with nose or throat mucus. It is important to always cover your mouth with coughing or sneezing and to use a tissue that you throw away after use. Good cleaning and hand washing practice will also help stop the spread of measles.
It will usually take about 10 days (range 7 to 18 days) for symptoms to start showing after someone has caught measles, and the rash usually appears on about day 14.
Someone with measles can pass the illness onto others for about 10 days, starting from 5 days before the rash until about 4 days after the start of the rash.
The general recommendation is that anyone with measles should stay away from work, school, childcare, and places where large groups of people gather, so that they do not spread measles. Talk to your doctor about when it is advisable to be kept way from work or school.