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What Causes Measles In Adults?

About Measles:

Measles is an extremely contagious viral infection seen mostly in children but can also affect adults. The primary mode of transmission of Measles virus is by coming in contact with droplets that come out of an infected individual during coughing, sneezing, or speaking. In some cases, an individual can get measles by just being in the same room as the infected person.

Till the mid 1960s to 1970s, Measles was considered as life threatening especially in the third world countries; however, in the United States vaccine has already been developed and the country has been deemed measles free until the late 2011 when there was an increase in the number of cases of measles as a result of increased foreign travel especially to countries in Central Africa and Asia. This prompted the FDA to release a travel advisory for children and adults to be immunized before foreign travel to prevent measles from developing.

Individuals born after 1957 who do not have any medical contraindication are advised to take at least one dose of the MMR vaccine to prevent them from contracting measles.

Additionally, college students, healthcare professionals and frequent travelers are also recommended to get the MMR vaccine to protect them from contracting the virus that causes Measles. It is well known that measles can affect the children but this article delineates as to how adults can be affected by Measles.

What Causes Measles In Adults?

The root cause of Measles is the rubella virus. This virus normally lives in the mucous of the throat or nose in an infected person. An adult can get Measles if he or she has not been vaccinated for Measles or the effectiveness of the vaccine has worn out.

An adult with Measles will be contagious for seven to ten days after contracting the infection after which the characteristic symptoms of measles appear and from then on the infection runs its course.

An adult can get Measles through physical contact with an infected individual, being close to an infected person when they sneeze or cough, and touching a surface which has been infected by the droplets of mucous by an infected individual.

In conclusion, Measles tend to affect children more than adults but even adults can get Measles if they have not been vaccinated for this infection or if the efficacy of the vaccine has worn out. Since an individual can get Measles mostly by traveling to third world countries, it is prudent that he or she get vaccinated before their planned travel to protect them from a serious disease like Measles.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Measles: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html
  2. World Health Organization (WHO) – Measles: https://www.who.int/health-topics/measles#tab=tab_1
  3. Mayo Clinic – Measles: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/measles/symptoms-causes/syc-20374857
  4. MedlinePlus – Measles: https://medlineplus.gov/measles.html

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 28, 2023

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