What is measles?

Learn about measles, which is a very contagious illness caused by a virus. This means it spreads very easily to others.

Measles is rare in the U.S. because so many people have been vaccinated against it. However, anyone in the U.S. who is unvaccinated can still get measles. People who travel to other countries can bring measles back home with them and then spread it to others. So even if you and your family do not travel outside the U.S., measles could still spread in your community.

This fact sheet answers common questions about measles, such as:

  • How common is measles?
  • How do people get measles?
  • What are the symptoms of measles?
  • Can measles be prevented?
  • Why is measles so contagious?
What is measles?

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