Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Measles starts with a fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can be serious for young children. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death.
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.
The best protection against measles is vaccination. Most insurance plans cover vaccinations. If yours does not, or your child is uninsured, the Vaccines for Children
program may be able to help.
The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 644 cases from 27 states reported to CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination
was documented in the U.S. in 2000.
- The majority of the people who got measles were unvaccinated.
- Measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.
- Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.
- Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.
In Kentucky, students are required to receive the measles vaccine to attend public school. However, state law permits exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
Parents should contact their campus/school nurse if they have questions about immunization laws and practices.