Kids and teens

What is measles?

Measles is an infectious disease caused by the measles virus

Measles can cause a fever (high temperature), cough, runny nose, aches and pains, and red, watery eyes.

Measles also causes a blotchy red skin rash that begins on the face and then spreads down the body.

3D graphic of a spherical measles virus particle
(Image credit: Alissa Eckert)

Measles can be serious

Some people who get measles may have to go to the hospital. Measles can lead to pneumonia, brain swelling, and even death.

Measles has a characteristic red rash (Image credit: Sue Clark)

How does the measles virus spread?

Measles is very contagious

The measles virus spreads through the air in droplets when someone with measles coughs or sneezes. The measles virus can stay in the air for up to 2 hours.

This is how easy it is to spread—and prevent—measles

The measles virus is so contagious that up to 9 out of 10 people exposed to measles will become infected if they are not protected from measles. The measles vaccine provides protection from measles.

Measles is highly contagious, can be serious, and is easy to prevent with safe and effective vaccines. (Credit: National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)

Measles can be prevented

The best prevention is vaccination

The best protection from measles is the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Get Vaccinated and Prevent Measles (Source: Centres for Disease Control)
Strengthen your defence. Get vaccinated. To learn how vaccines protect you against serious diseases, visit (Image credit: Public Health Agency of Canada)
Be a champion. Get vaccinated.
Vaccines help you win the fight against diseases. To learn how vaccines can make you a champion visit (Image credit: Public Health Agency of Canada)

Vaccines—including the MMR vaccine—are safe and effective

Vaccines are tested and monitored year after year by scientists and health care professionals

Vaccines do not cause autism

Explore the myth about a link between autism and vaccines in this video from NOVA: “Vaccines—Calling the Shots.” The mother of a 16-year-old with autism describes her own personal journey to becoming an autism advocate and investigating the alleged connection between autism and the MMR vaccine. Numerous scientific studies have failed to find any evidence for a vaccine–autism link; the original 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield that had suggested a connection has been proven to be fraudulent and has since been retracted.

PBS video: NOVA: Vaccines—Calling the Shots | Autism & Vaccines

Vaccines work

Measles cases in Canada have decreased by >99% because of the measles vaccine (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2019).