Measles (Rubeola)

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Measles facts

  • Measles is a potentially serious disease that is caused by a virus that is easily spread.
  • Measles symptoms and signs include
  • Measles can be complicated by ear infections, pneumonia, or encephalitis.
  • Measles infection of the brain (encephalitis) can cause convulsions, mental retardation, and even death.
  • There have been recent epidemics of measles in Europe and increasing outbreaks in the United States.
  • Measles in pregnant women can cause miscarriages or premature delivery.
  • Measles can be prevented through vaccination.
  • Each person not immunized against measles is at risk for measles and puts others at risk.

What is measles? What does measles look like?

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can be fatal. In most people, the disease produces fever (temperature > 101 F [38.3 C]), a generalized rash that lasts greater than three days, cough, runny nose (coryza), and red eyes (conjunctivitis). The complications of measles that result in most deaths include pneumonia and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).

Picture of a child with measles skin rash
Picture of a baby with measles. Source: CDC

What is rubeola? What is rubella? What are other names for measles?

Rubeola is the scientific name used for measles. It should not be confused with rubella (German measles).

Rubella is the scientific name used of German measles, a different viral illness. While German measles is rarely fatal, it is dangerous in that infection of pregnant women causes birth defects and can cause miscarriage and fetal death.

Other terms have been used to describe measles. These include (erroneously) rubella, hard measles, red measles, seven-day measles, eight-day measles, nine-day measles, 10-day measles, and morbilli.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/6/2015

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Measles Symptoms and Signs

Measles, also known as rubeola, is a respiratory disease characterized by a rash all over the body in addition to fever, runny nose, and cough. It is typically a childhood illness that can be complicated by ear infection or pneumonia; associated symptoms for these conditions can include

  • ear pain or fullness,
  • shortness of breath,
  • and chest pain.