Skip to Content
Home > Health Information > Health Library > Measles
Measles, also called rubeola or red measles, is a contagious viral illness. It usually causes a red, non-itchy rash over most of the body.
Other symptoms are similar to those caused by the common cold, such as high fever, sneezing, sore throat, coughing, swollen glands, red and irritated eyes, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Although measles is much less common today, it still infects people who have not received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine or the measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox (varicella) vaccine (MMRV). For example, teenagers or college students who have not been immunized could get measles while they are in their school settings.
If a pregnant woman gets measles, she has a greater chance of miscarrying her baby, delivering her baby prematurely, or delivering a stillborn baby. But measles infection does not cause birth defects.
Treatment for measles includes resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking acetaminophen or other nonprescription drugs to relieve symptoms. Most people who have measles recover without complications. But babies, older adults, and people who have impaired immune systems are at greater risk for complications, such as ear infections, strep throat, pneumonia, or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
Measles used to be common in children, but the measles vaccine has drastically reduced the number of cases that occur each year.
Current as of:
December 12, 2018
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Christine Hahn, MD - Infectious Disease, Epidemiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
See important information from Billings Clinic on Non-discrimination and Interpreter Services.
Billings Clinic is proud to be an equal opportunity/affirmative action (EOE/AA) e-verify employer.