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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.

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Florida Health

Disease Control

measles banner - image of a black baby girl with the text the best way to protect against measles is vaccination. the power to protect.

What is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease.

Although it is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age. Generally, preschool children, adolescents and inadequately immunized individuals comprise the majority of measles cases in the United States.


What are the symptoms of measles?

Symptoms typically appear 7 to 14 days after a person has been infected and include:

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Within 3 to 5 days, a rash often develops on the face and neck, and can spread to the rest of the body.


How can people prevent catching measles?

The best way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated.

Health care providers and county health departments offer the MMR vaccine, which prevents measles, mumps and rubella.


What are the possible health complications from measles?

Anyone can get measles: children under 5 years old and adults over 20 years old are more likely to suffer complications from measles.

  • Ear infections occur in about 1 in 10 children who catch measles. Permanent hearing loss is possible.
  • Diarrhea occurs in about 1 in 10 people who catch measles.
  • Pneumonia occurs in about 1 in 20 children who catch measles. Pneumonia is the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
  • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain) occurs in about 1 in 1,000 children who catch measles. Encephalitis can lead to convulsions, deafness or intellectual disabilities.
  • Death occurs in about 1 or 2 out of 1,000 children who catch measles.
  • Pregnant women who catch measles are at risk of premature birth or have a low-birth-weight baby.
  • People with compromised immune systems, such as from leukemia and HIV infection, may be especially at risk for measles complications.


Who is at risk of getting measles?

  • People who are unvaccinated or inadequately vaccinated for measles.
  • People with compromised immune systems.
  • People who traveled to international and domestic geographic regions with ongoing measles outbreaks.
  • People who have been exposed to someone with measles.


What should I do if I think my child or a loved one may have measles?

  • First, call your health care provider, facility or county health department and let them know your concerns. DO NOT go directly to your health care provider’s office or facility, or the county health department.

  • A health care provider or a county health department official will give you instructions on getting seen in a timely manner, and how you can avoid exposing other people to measles.


*Note: This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format (PDF). The free Acrobat Reader may be required to view these files.