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What You Need to Know About Measles

What You Need to Know About Measles

Measles is a virus that causes fever and a rash. It is highly contagious and anyone who is not vaccinated against the virus can get it at any age.

Pediatrician Dr. Karen Griffith

Measles can be serious for people of all ages. But, the virus is more severe in infants, pregnant women and people whose immune systems are weak. In some cases. measles can lead to death.

Presently, there is a measles outbreak in parts of Brooklyn and Queens. So far, more than 400 measles cases have been reported in New York City with most cases occurring in children under age 5.

“The best and safest way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Karen Griffith of NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County in Brooklyn.

Here are some facts about measles and tips for keeping your family safe.

    More Measles Info


Symptoms usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus. In some cases, symptoms may start as early as seven days or as late as 21 days.

Early symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes

Three to five days after initial symptoms, a rash of red spots appears on the face that then spreads over the entire body.

People who become infected with measles can suffer complications including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Ear infections
  • Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)
  • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • Premature birth or low-birth-weight in pregnancy
  • Death


Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles. Anyone who has received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine is considered immune and highly unlikely to get measles.

MMR Vaccine

A child should get a measles vaccine on or after their first birthday. The vaccine is combined with mumps and rubella vaccines into one vaccine called MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). A second dose of MMR vaccine is recommended before children enter school at 4 to 6 years of age.

For everyone 12 months or older, two doses of measles vaccine are recommended.

For more information on measles, go to the New York City Department of Health Measles webpage.

If you need more information about measles vaccinations, call 1-844-NYC-4NYC.

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