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Measles is a disease caused by a virus that spreads very easily from person to person. Symptoms of measles occur 10 days to two weeks after exposure and may resemble a cold (with fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes), but a rash occurs on the skin 2-4 days after the initial symptoms develop. The rash usually appears first on the head and moves downward. The rash typically lasts a few days and then disappears in the same order. People with measles may be contagious up to four days before the rash appears and for four days after the day the rash appears.
The virus that causes measles lives in the nose and throat and is sprayed into the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks. It can stay in the air for up to 2 hours. Other people nearby can then inhale the virus. Touching tissues or sharing a cup used by someone who has measles can also spread the virus.
People with the potential for exposure should be watchful for symptoms of measles, and should call their healthcare provider, if they develop symptoms, before visiting a healthcare facility. Visiting a healthcare facility with symptoms of measles puts others at risk.
For information about measles go to the MA Department of Health Fact Sheet or call your primary care physician.