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Measles; rash; spot; fever; sore; eye; immunisation; virus; infectious; disease ;


What is measles?

Measles is a serious illness.

It is caused by a virus.

It can lead to other serious illnesses.

When Europeans first went to places like Australia and America they took the measles virus with them (there were people who were sick with measles among the settlers). Many people already living in those places (indigenous people - say in-dij-in-uss) caught measles and many people died because no one in those places had ever had measles before and there was no immunity to it.

What does it look like?

  • Feeling miserable and unwell, having a headache.
  • measlesRunny nose.
  • Cough.
  • Red, sore eyes which hurt when looking at TV or when the light is bright.
  • Fever - having a high temperature.
  • Small red spots with white centres inside the mouth before the rash comes.
  • A rash of large flat patches which can run together and cover most of the body.
  • The rash usually starts on the forehead then moves down the body.
  • The outer layer of the skin may peel off as the rash gets better, but new skin is growing all the time to take its place.
  • Feeling hot and tired and pretty sick (feeling crook as we say in Australia).

How do you get it?

measlesYou get measles from someone who has got measles.

It is spread through the air by sneezing or coughing.

It can be spread by the watery stuff from a runny nose or eyes.

It takes about 8-12 days after contact with measles for the person to become unwell.

What you should do

in bed

See the doctor and stay home. Rest and sleep a lot.

Mum, dad or whoever cares for you may give you paracetamol or ibuprofen mixture or tablets to bring down the fever and ease up any headache.

passing germs to another
Bright light, TV or computer games may hurt your eyes so this is a good time to rest or get mum or dad to read your favourite stories to you.

Turning off lights and closing the curtains may help your eyes feel better.

Your eyes will be sticky, so wash them with damp coton wool. Throw the cotton wool away and then wash your hands.

Measles is very infectious from when you start being unwell until 4 or 5 days after the rash comes. This is a bad time to invite your friends for a sleep over! Don't go near young children or elderly people.


How to avoid measles

olden days peopleMost kids in Australia will not get measles because they have been immunised (by injections) against Measles, Mumps and Rubella when they were 12 months old and again at 18 months. Many other countries have the same sort of programs for their kids too so that there are no longer thousands of kids all over the world dying every year from measles, like they used to do in the old days.

Have a look at our topic Immunisation - keeping safe from diseases

From a mum,  "I got measles when I was little and had to stay in my room with the curtains closed. I couldn’t even read because my eyes were so sore. The good bit was that my dad came to read to me every night when I was sick."

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim
Measles is a serious illness and it is much better to have the immunisations before you are in contact with someone who has measles.


Measles are not funny
Measles are not nice
Your nose it feels all runny
You're hot then cold as ice.
Eyes are sore and sandy
Mouth is hot and dry.
It really would be handy
If measles passed you by!

B Hall
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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