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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Measles 

What is measles? Measles is a very contagious viral infection that spreads through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes.

Measles can result in complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, brain infections, other infections and infrequently, death can occur.

 

 
  • measles fact sheet front pageMeasles Fact Sheet (PDF 79.4KB)
    View, download and print the Measles Fact Sheet. Measles can result in complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, brain infections, other infections and infrequently, death can occur.
 

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Oral Health, Communicable Disease and Sexual Health Services Division:

  • 519-663-5317 Ext. 2330
 

What are the signs and symptoms of measles?

Symptoms of measles include:

  • Fever, cough and runny nose
  • Red, irritated eyes and light sensitivity
  • Small white, grey or blue spots in the mouth
  • Red, blotchy rash, which is the last symptom to appear. The rash appears on the face and then spreads down over the body, and will begin to fade after about a week.

Symptoms can start anywhere from 7 to 21 days after a person has been exposed to the virus. Symptoms usually develop around 10 days after exposure and the rash usually develops 14 days after exposure.

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How is it spread?

Measles is a virus that spreads easily throught the air. It is transmitted in tiny droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes. It can survive in the air for up to two hours. Measles can be spread from four days before the rash appears until four days after the onset of the rash.

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What do you do if you are exposed to measles?

If you are born before 1970, have had measles in the past, or have received two doses of measles-containing vaccinem you are considered protected against measles infection.

If you have been exposed and are not protected, a vaccine can prevent measles from developing if given within 72 hours (3 days) of exposure. These individuals should contact their health care provider, or the Middlesex-London Health Unit, at the phone number listed below as soon as possible. 

Pregnant women who are not protected, individuals who have problems with their immune system and are not protected, and infants under six (6) months of age can be treated with another medication up to six (6) days after exposure. These individuals should contact their health care provider, and the Middlesex-London Health Unit, at the phone number listed below as soon as possible.

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What to do if you develop symptoms:

  • Stay home and don't allow others to visit for at least four (4) days after the rash starts
  • Call the Health Unit at the phone number listed below
  • Contact your healthcare provider by phone. Please note: If you need to visit a healthcare provider, call first and tell them you have measles symptoms. Visit the healthcare provider at the end of the day unless this is not practical or possible for medical reasons. On arrival, immediately ask for a mask when you enter the office/clinic, and to be placed in a private room. If this is not possible, wait in your car until you are seen by the healthcare provider.
  • If your healthcare provider suspects measles, they should notify the Health Unit at the number listed below.

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How is measles treated?

There is no treatment for this viral illness. Supportive measures can be taken to relieve sore throat, cough and fever. Care should be taken not to expose others to infection by staying home and not allowing others to visit for at least four (4) days after the start of the rash. Immunization prior to exposure is the best defense against infection.

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How can measles be prevented?

Immunization

  • Two doses of measles vaccine are given to children after their first birthday to provide optimal protection. Measles vaccine is given in combination with other vaccines. MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine should be administered at 12 months of age and the second dose should be given as MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella, varicella) between four to six years of age, preferably prior to school entry. Previously the second dose was given at 18 months.
  • Some adults may have received only one dose of the vaccine in the past. A second dose of MMR is recommended for anyone born in 1970 or later. Measles vaccine should not be given to pregnant women or people with immune system problems.

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Vaccine Information

For vaccine information, please contact your healthcare provider or the Middlesex-London Health Unit:

  • 519-663-5317 ext. 2330 (Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)
  • 519-663-5317 and select option 2 (after hours)
  • email shots@mlhu.on.ca
  • For more information, please visit: Immunization.

Additional Measles Information

For more information about measles, please contact the Middlesex-London Health Unit:

  • 519-663-5317 ext. 2330 (Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)
  • 519-663-5317 and select option 2 (after hours)
  • email shots@mlhu.on.ca

Information also available on the following websites:

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 Acknowledgement: Oxford Public Health and Emergency Services for sharing their resources.

 
Date of creation: March 15, 2014
Last modified on: January 11, 2016
 

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