Measles

This page provides information about measles including how it is spread, its symptoms, and how to get a vaccine.

What is it and what does it look like?

  • Measles is a very infectious and potentially serious viral illness.
  • It starts with a high fever and respiratory symptoms with one or more of the following:  runny nose, cough, red eyes and small white spots inside the mouth. 
  • Three or 4 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 and about 10% need hospital admission.

Am I at risk?

You are considered susceptible if:

  • You have not received the correct number of measles vaccines for your age – in New Zealand, this is given in the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, after your first birthday (15 months) and again when you're four-years-old.
  • You've never had measles before (as diagnosed by your doctor).
  • You've not had immunity shown on a blood test.
  • You are immune-suppressed.

What should I do?

  • Contact your doctor to talk about your risk and your immunity.
  • In some cases, a simple phone call or an email might be all you need.
  • If you think you’re showing measles symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

How is it treated?

  • There is no specific treatment for the infection once contracted but it is preventable through vaccination which is usually initiated in childhood.
  • Although we have relatively high levels of immunity in New Zealand through vaccination, levels of protection can fall with time.
  • Global levels of vaccination vary so travellers can be at risk.

What should I do?

  • See your doctor should you have symptoms as described above.
  • If you also have a rash you should ideally ring ahead so that appropriate isolation procedures can be arranged for your arrival at the medical practice rooms.

More information

For detailed information, visit the Ministry of Health