What are measles

Measles is a serious disease and can cause severe disease or death. It's caused by the measles virus and can also lead to complications, such as lung infection (pneumonia), middle ear infection (otitis media) and brain inflammation (encephalitis).

Who's at risk

You can get measles at any age but people most at risk include:

  • people born after 1965 who haven’t had 2 doses of the measles vaccine
  • people who haven’t been infected with measles in the past
  • people who are travelling to countries where measles is prevalent.

Signs and symptoms

You'll usually get symptoms about 10 days after getting infected, but it can range from 7 to 18 days.

You may feel like you're getting a cold because the symptoms are similar and can include:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • runny nose
  • moist cough
  • sore red eyes.

A few days later you'll get a rash, which will start on your face and spread down your body. The rash lasts for 4 to 7 days and isn't itchy. You may also get small spots in your mouth.

Young children can get diarrhoea.

How it spreads

Measles is one of the most easily spread infections. You can get infected by just being in the same room as someone with measles.

You get measles from:

  • an infected person coughing or sneezing near you
  • touching contaminated surfaces, such as hands, remote controls, phones, keyboards and door handles, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

You can infect other people from about the day before you get cold symptoms to about 4 days after you get a rash.

If you've been around someone with measles, you shouldn't go to childcare or school, this includes if you work at one, until 14 days after their rash appeared or 18 days from your last contact with them if you:

  • haven't been vaccinated
  • have an immune condition.

If you or your children get vaccinated within 72 hours of being around someone with measles, you can go back to work, childcare or school.


The best way to protect yourself is to make sure your vaccination is up to date.

If you were born before 1966, you've probably had measles and are immune. If you were born after 1966, you need to have had 2 vaccinations.

Read more about when you should get vaccinated.


There's no specific treatment for measles and you'll usually start feeling better in about a week.

It can help to:

  • rest and drink plenty fluids, such as water, to avoid dehydration
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve a high temperature
  • use cotton wool soaked in warm water to gently remove any crusts from your or your child's eyes.

Don't give Aspirin to your children if they're under 16 unless their GP has told you to. Aspirin has been associated with a risk of developing a rare liver and brain illness called Reye's syndrome.

If you're seeing your GP, it’s very important to call ahead and let them know you've got symptoms if you think you or your child have measles. They may suggest a telehealth appointment.

Where to get vaccinated

Getting vaccinated is easy. You can get most vaccines from your GP or health provider. Find out where to get vaccinated.

When to get help

Call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance if you're worried about your symptoms.

If you're not sure whether to go to an emergency department, call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or see your GP.

Find out more

For more information about vaccination, contact your health provider or call 13 HEALTH(13 43 25 84) .

Find an vaccination provider

Information in your language

You can find information about vaccination in your language on the  Queensland Government website.

Last updated: July 2023