Measles infection

Last reviewed: 22 Feb 2023
Last updated: 08 Apr 2022



History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • potential exposure to measles
  • unimmunised or vaccine failure
  • fever
  • cough
  • coryza
  • conjunctivitis
  • Koplik's spots
  • maculopapular rash
More key diagnostic factors

Risk factors

  • exposure to measles virus
  • no prior immunisation against measles
  • failure to respond to measles vaccine
More risk factors

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • measles-specific IgM and IgG serology (ELISA)
More 1st investigations to order

Investigations to consider

  • acute and convalescent sera for measles-specific IgG
  • measles RNA detection by PCR
  • antigen detection by fluorescent antibody or PCR techniques
  • isolation of virus in tissue culture system
More investigations to consider

Treatment algorithm


all patients



Elizabeth Barnett, MD

Professor of Pediatrics

Boston University School of Medicine

Boston Medical Center




EB has received research grant funding from Pfizer for COVID-19, RSV and pneumococcal vaccine studies. She has received royalties writing for UptoDate (evaluation of newly arrived immigrants) and AAP (parasitic disease treatment).

Peer reviewers

Linda Nield, MD, FAAP

Associate Professor of Pediatrics

West Virginia University School of Medicine




LN is an author of a reference cited in this topic.

Aisha Sethi, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Associate Residency Program Director

University of Chicago




AS declares that she has no competing interests.

  • Measles infection images
  • Differentials

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    • Parvovirus B19
    • Roseola
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  • Guidelines

    • Recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2022
    • Recommended adult immunization schedule for ages 19 years or older, United States, 2022
    More Guidelines
  • Patient leaflets

    Measles, mumps, and rubella: should my child have the MMR vaccine?

    More Patient leaflets
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