Measles: Information for Dental Settings
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. Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface and then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. 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 associated rash appears.
Measles is a disease of humans; measles virus is not spread by any other animal species.
For updated information on measles, please review CDC’s Measles (Rubeola) for Healthcare Professionals Website.
Measles is designated by CDC and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists as a nationally notifiable disease. Many states require health care personnel to immediately report a suspected measles case to local health officials so they may begin notification, isolation, quarantine, and reporting. Consult your state or local health department for rules specific to your jurisdiction.
The April 2019 Measles update to the Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings (2007) provided the following guidance for health care personnel who think a patient may have measles:
1. Measles-susceptible healthcare personnel (HCP) should not enter the room if care providers who are immune to measles are available.
2. Regardless of any presumptive evidence of immunity (including written documentation of adequate vaccination, laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of measles, or birth before 1957), HCP should use respiratory protection that is at least as protective as a fit-tested, NIOSH-certified N95 respirator when entering the patient’s room or care area.
3. If a measles-susceptible HCP is exposed to measles, a post-exposure vaccine should be administered within 72 hours (or immune globulin administered within 6 days, when available).
Surfaces potentially contaminated with respiratory droplets should be cleaned and disinfected using an EPA-registered low- or intermediate-level hospital disinfectant.