Measles is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. It is spread easily from person to person through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. 

Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, and is followed by a rash that spreads all over the body. Individuals with measles can develop serious complications including pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea, or encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Complications are more common in adults and young children.

The best way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated. Two doses of the vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing the disease.

The last case of measles in El Paso County was in 2015. This was the first case seen in El Paso County since 1992.

Additional Resources

Do I need an MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine?

With measles cases popping up across the nation, you probably want to know that you and your family are safe from this potentially deadly disease. You are presumed to be immune from measles if:

  • You were born before 1957.
  • You previously had measles.
  • You received two doses of the MMR vaccine that were at least four weeks apart or two doses of or the MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella and varicella) vaccine that were at least 12 weeks apart.

The first dose of MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective. The second dose is 97 percent effective.

If you aren’t sure if you received necessary vaccines, seek records from your health care provider or call El Paso County Public Health with questions (719-578-3199, option 5). If you still can’t find your records or haven’t been vaccinated, you are encouraged to get two doses of MMR vaccine, spaced four weeks apart. Those who only received a single shot of vaccine should get a booster shot.

MMR is a routine childhood vaccine. Babies usually receive their first MMR dose at 12-15 months and the second dose around kindergarten. If traveling internationally or to an outbreak area, infants as young as 6 months may be vaccinated. Parents are encouraged to discuss options with their pediatrician.