Industry Facts

Five facts about measles

  1. Measles is a highly contagious, airborne virus that can cause serious complications or even death.1 The disease infects the respiratory tract before spreading throughout the rest of the body, with symptoms including a rash, a runny nose, a high fever and a cough.1
  2. The first written account of measles dates back to the 9th Century, when it was mentioned by a Persian doctor.2 Then in 1757, Francis Home, a Scottish physician noted that measles is caused by an ‘infectious agent’ in a patient’s blood.2 In the US, measles became a nationally notifiable disease in 1912, meaning any cases needed to be reported.2
  3. A measles vaccine became available in 1963, following research by John F Enders and Dr Thomas C Peebles to isolate the measles virus from infected blood samples. 2 An improved version was developed by Maurice Hilleman and distributed in 1968, and this vaccine is now usually combined with mumps and rubella vaccines.2
  4. Between 2000 and 2021, measles vaccinations have prevented an estimated 56 million deaths worldwide, with the number of deaths decreasing from 761,000 in 2000 to 128,000 in 2021.1
  5. Measles is spread through coughs, sneezes, close contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions, and can be transmitted after spending more than 15 minutes in direct contact with someone infected with the virus.3