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Measles infection

Last reviewed: 30 Oct 2023
Last updated: 10 Oct 2023



History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • potential exposure to measles
  • unvaccinated/incompletely vaccinated individuals
  • fever
  • cough
  • coryza
  • conjunctivitis
  • Koplik spots
  • maculopapular rash
More key diagnostic factors

Risk factors

  • exposure to measles virus
  • no prior immunization 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 receives clinical trial funds from Pfizer (COVID, PCV20, and RSV vaccines) and GSK (MMRV vaccine). She receives royalties from Elsevier (Immigrant Medicine), AAP (Nelson's antimicrobial therapy), and honoraria from AAP (Red Book). She participated in an Advisory Board (Sobi, RSV).

Peer reviewers

Sharon Nachman, MD

Professor of Pediatrics

Division Chief Pediatric Infectious Disease

State University of New York at Stony Brook

Stony Brook



SN declares that she has no competing interests.

Linda Nield, MD, FAAP

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

    • Rubella
    • Scarlet fever
    • Parvovirus B19
    More Differentials
  • Guidelines

    • Recommended adult immunization schedule for ages 19 years or older, United States, 2023​​
    • Canadian immunization guide
    More Guidelines
  • Patient leaflets

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

    More Patient leaflets
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