The Measles


  • Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
  • In 2013, there were 145 700 measles deaths globally – about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour.
  • Measles vaccination resulted in a 75% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2013 worldwide.
  • In 2013, about 84% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000.
  • During 2000-2013, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.

what it is

Measles is an airborne disease which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of those infected. It may also be spread through contact with saliva or nasal secretions. Nine out of ten people who are not immune who share living space with an infected person will catch it.

Measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.

How serious is measles

Measles can lead to hospitalization and death.

Many people with measles have complications like diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia or acute encephalitis (a brain infection that can lead to permanent brain damage). Complications are more common in children younger than 5 and adults older than 20.

Measles during pregnancy increases the risk of premature labor, miscarriage and low birth weight infants.

Measles can be especially severe in people whose immune systems are weak.

Measles is an extremely contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It spreads in the air through coughing and sneezing and can live for up to two hours on surfaces or in an airspace where an infected person has coughed or sneezed. While no longer common in the U.S., it is still is common in many other countries and may be brought into the U.S. by unvaccinated travelers.