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?
- 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.
- In some cases, a simple phone call or an email might be all you need to talk about your risk and your immunity.
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.
For detailed information, visit the Ministry of Health website.