Transmission of Measles

illustration: person coughing on another person

It spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

How measles spreads

Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing.

If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected.

Animals do not get or spread measles.

illustration: germs floating near a lamp and dresser

The virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases

Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears.

Measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace after an infected person leaves an area.

Page last reviewed: November 5, 2020