Measles is a very contagious virus that can be spread by person-to-person contact or through the air. The virus can remain in the air for up to two hours. Measles can be transmitted to others 4 days before a rash develops and 4 days after the rash starts. 

About 9 out of 10 people who have not had the measles vaccine will get measles if they are exposed to it. Larger number of unvaccinated students and staff in colleges can increase the risk of measles being spread more easily.

Measles Symptoms

Symptoms of measles can start 7 to 21 days after being exposed.

  • First signs can include a high fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
  • This can be followed by red, watery eyes, runny nose and a cough.
  • Later, white, gray or blue spots may be seen inside the mouth.
  • Then a red rash starting on the face and spreading down the body may appear.
  • Complications of measles can include pneumonia, infections in the brain, and even death. 


Vaccination is the best way to avoid getting measles and spreading it. Persons who haven’t had the vaccine should get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. All students should have two doses of the MMR vaccine. Persons born before 1957 are considered immune. Persons who were vaccinated between 1963 and 1968 may have received the killed MMR vaccine and may not be immune. 

Anyone unsure of their vaccination status can contact their primary care provider for questions, get their immunization records or get a blood test to check their titer.

Students can go to their primary care provider or to the Student Wellness Center to get the MMR vaccination.

If you feel you could have measles symptoms, call your primary care provider or Student Wellness Center before visiting your care provider's office.

For More Information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Santa Clara Public Health Department