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How is measles spread?

Page last updated 23 March 2020

The measles virus is spread when a person breathes in the measles virus that has been by coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. In fact, measles is one of the most easily spread disease of all human infections – by just being in the same room as an infected person can result in you contracting the virus yourself.

The virus can survive in airspace where an infected person has coughed or sneezed for up to two hours – so people can contract the measles by breathing in that same contaminated air, or by touching a contaminated surface, then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

The measles can spread to others from four days before the rash appears, through to four days after it appears.

Sources & Citations

2. World Health Organisation. Measles. Available at (accessed 10 March 2020).

4. Victoria State Government. Better Health Channel. Measles. Available at: (accessed 10 March 2020).

5. NSW Government. Measles Fact Sheet. Available at: (accessed 10 March 2020).

8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. 13th ed. Washington D.C. Public Health Foundation, 2015.

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0133(2)a - Date of preparation March 2020