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Disease Information / Measles


What is it

Measles is an acute and highly contagious viral infection that was common in children around the world prior to the introduction of vaccination.1

Who is at risk and what are the symptoms

Children who have not been vaccinated against the measles virus are at risk. After a 10 to 14 day incubation period, the most common symptoms include rash, fever, cough, runny nose and inflammation of the eyes. Complications include ear, brain and lung infections which can lead to death.2

How is it spread

Measles is highly contagious and one of the most easily spread human infections. The virus is spread through the air by the coughing and sneezing of an infected person. People with measles become infectious one to two days prior to the appearance of symptoms, until four days after the rash appears.1

How is it prevented

Measles is a vaccine preventable disease. In Australia, immunisation against measles is recommended for children aged 12 months with a second dose at 18 months. Measles vaccine is often incorporated with the mumps and rubella vaccines. 2

How is it diagnosed and treated

A General Practitioner (GP) will initially suspect a measles diagnosis based on symptoms. This is followed up with a blood test and samples from the nose, throat and urine. There is no specific treatment available for measles. People with measles require rest, fluids to maintain hydration and paracetamol to treat fever. It is important that people suffering from measles stay at home to reduce the possibility of spreading the infection to others.1

Where to get help

Urgent medical advice from your GP is recommended for the onset of measles-like symptoms. For further information regarding measles vaccination speak with your healthcare professional.


  1. NSW Health:
  2. Immunise Australia: