Measles is caused by the Measles virus and spreads through the air by droplet or direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons, and less commonly, by articles soiled with nose and throat secretions. The patient can pass the disease to other persons from 4 days before to 4 days after appearance of the rash. Incubation period usually ranges from 7 - 18 days, but can be up to 21 days. Affected persons will present initially with tiredness, fever, cough, red eyes and white spots inside the mouth. This is followed by a red blotchy skin rash 3-7 days later. The rash usually spreads from the face down to the rest of the body. In severe cases, middle ear, lungs and brain can get involved and lead to serious consequences or even death.

If symptoms discovered, patient should consult doctors immediately and avoid contact with non-immune persons, especially those with weakened immunity, pregnant women and infants.

MMR vaccination

MMR vaccine can effectively prevent 3 infectious diseases. In Hong Kong, MMR vaccine is included in the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme, children should receive two doses of MMR. The first dose should be given at one year of age. The second dose of MMR is given to all primary one students.

Women of childbearing age who are not previously immunised should receive MMR before pregnancy, to protect the health of her fetus.

MMR can be given at the same time with other live vaccines or separated by an interval of 4 weeks.

The following individuals should not receive MMR or should wait

  1. Serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of MMR vaccine
  2. Known history of severe allergy to gelatin or certain antibiotics
  3. Cancer or immunodeficiency
  4. On long term corticosteroids
  5. Has received immunoglobulin or other blood products (e.g. blood transfusion) within the past 11 months
  6. Has received other live vaccines in the past four weeks
  7. Pregnancy*

*Women should avoid pregnancy for three months after vaccination

People, who are unsure about the vaccination should consult doctors or take an antibody test before vaccination.

Source: Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health