Measles Outbreak: What You Should Know

Since January, people in 17 states have become sick
Feb. 13, 2015

The 2015 measles outbreak was the largest since 1990. People in 17 states (including Colorado) and Mexico have become sick with measles since January. Most of these people caught the virus when they were in California, where they came into contact with someone sick with measles.

It is very easy to catch measles from someone else, and the virus can make you very sick and can even cause death. Once someone catches measles it usually takes a week to 12 days before they feel sick, but they can be contagious even before the first symptoms appear.

What symptoms to watch out for:

  • Most people get fever, cough, runny nose, or red eyes first
  • Several days later most people get a rash
  • Some people get red spots on the inside of their mouth

What to do if you or a family member might have measles:

  • Stay at home! Don’t go to work, school or day care.
  • Call your doctor.


  • Most of the people who catch measles are not vaccinated.
  • If you were born before 1957 you likely are protected without the vaccine because you probably caught measles when you were young.
  • People born after 1957 should receive 2 doses of measles vaccine (like the MMR) – these are usually given when a person is about 1 year old and again before starting school (4-6 years old), but this can be different depending on a person’s health and their risk of getting sick.
  • Some people aren’t completely protected even after getting the vaccine – your doctor can check to see if you need more doses to be protected.
  • If you have any questions about the measles vaccine, ask your doctor!

About the author

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. With 24,000 employees, UCHealth includes 12 acute-care full-service hospitals and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.