Measles: Symptoms, High-Risk Groups & Complications

At least five cases of measles have been reported in Texas this year. All the reported cases involved children between 12 and 21 months old. The public should be aware that measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It is important that people are aware of the symptoms, high-risk groups, and complications.

measles-symptoms-complicationsWhat are measles?

Measles are:

  • viral disease
  • caused by the rubeola virus
  • highly contagious

There is no specific treatment for measles. Therefore, prevention of measles is the best option. The best way to protect against measles is to get the measles-mumps-rubella shot (aka the MMR shot).

Moreover, the measles vaccine prevents many cases of measles around the world. In addition, if measles enters an area where people have never been exposed, the result can be disastrous.The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.6 million people who have not had the vaccine die of measles every year.

How are measles transmitted?

Measles can be spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Moreover, it is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.

How contagious are the measles?

If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. In addition, the measles virus can live for up to two hours in the area where the infected person coughed or sneezed.

Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears.

What are symptoms of measles?

Symptoms of measles can appear 10-12 days after infection.

Symptoms of measles include:

  • High fever
  • “Three c’s”:
  • Cough
  • Conjunctivitis (or pink eye)
  • Coryza (or cold)
  • Small white spots on the inside of the mouth
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Rash on the face and upper neck, which spreads downwards
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Dry, hacking cough

Who is at risk of getting a severe case of measles?

  • malnourished young children
  • children with insufficient vitamin A
  • children with weakened immune systems (i.e. children with HIV/AIDS or other diseases)

What are complications of measles?

  • Ear infection
  • Severe respiratory infections, such as Pneumonia, Bronchitis, laryngitis or croup
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling)
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Severe dehydration
  • Death

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is a freestanding Emergency Room that provides excellent 24 hour care. We are located in South Austin, Pflugerville and Dripping Springs.


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Moreover, of you have medical questions, seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider. Never disregard professional medical advice. Don’t delay medical treatment because of something you have read on the internet. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911, or go to your nearest ER immediately.  


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