How is Measles Caused?

Measles is caused by the measles virus, which is a highly contagious and airborne virus belonging to the Paramyxovirus family. The virus is responsible for the contagious disease known as measles, rubeola, or morbilli. Measles can be caused or transmitted in the following ways:

  • Airborne Transmission: Measles is primarily spread through respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can remain suspended in the air and infect others who breathe in the contaminated air within close proximity to the infected person.
  • Direct Contact: Measles can also spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person, such as through touching contaminated surfaces or shaking hands with someone who has recently coughed or sneezed.
  • Infectious Period: Infected individuals are contagious for several days before the characteristic measles rash appears and for several days afterward. This makes it possible for the virus to spread even before the infected person realizes they have measles.

Once a person is exposed to the measles virus, it typically takes about 10 to 14 days for symptoms to develop. Common symptoms of measles include high fever, cough, runny nose, and a characteristic red rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

Measles is highly contagious, and even a brief encounter with an infected person or contact with surfaces contaminated by the virus can lead to infection, especially in individuals who are not immune to measles.

The best way to prevent measles is through vaccination with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are highly effective at preventing measles and providing immunity. Vaccination not only protects individuals from contracting measles but also contributes to herd immunity, which helps prevent outbreaks and protects those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants and individuals with certain medical conditions.

Measles can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and death, especially in young children and individuals with weakened immune systems. Therefore, vaccination is a crucial public health measure to control and prevent the spread of measles and its potential consequences.