Measles- Know your status

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Two cases of measles have been identified in Santa Barbara County along with an increase in measles cases being reported in other parts of California and the United States.  All residents should:

  • Know how to protect themselves
  • Have documentation of their vaccination status
  • Know how to prevent the spread of measles in our county

The measles virus causes a flu-like illness along with a rash. It is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles is a highly contagious virus.

It begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) about 8-12 days after exposure. A red rash appears a few days later that starts on the face, then spreads down to the rest of the body.

Although most people recover from measles, approximately 20% of cases experience one or more complications such as ear infection, pneumonia, and less commonly encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), hearing loss, seizures, and death.

Pregnant women, infants and immunocompromised people are particularly at risk if exposed to measles.

Measles Chart


You are considered protected from measles if you have documentation showing at least ONE of the following:

  • Two doses of measles-containing vaccine if you are a school-aged child (K-12)
  • Two doses of measles-containing vaccine if you are an adult (18+ years old) in one of the following situations that presents a higher risk of measles exposure:
    • Students at post-high school educational institutions
    • Healthcare personnel
    • International travelers
  • One dose of measles-containing vaccine if you are a pre-school aged child or an adult vaccinated in 1968 or later who is not in a high risk situation for measles exposure listed above 
  • You were born before 1957 (additional evidence of immunity may be needed in some situations)

There is a safe and effective vaccine (MMR; measles, mumps, rubella) available to protect against measles. If you are not considered immune to measles based on the information above, vaccination with MMR is recommended. All children should be vaccinated routinely, with the first dose starting at 12-15 months.

See your healthcare provider for additional information. Specific recommendations are available at

Measles vaccines are available at:

  • Local pharmacies
  • Medical providers

If you are exposed to measles, you may be required to provide documentation of your measles vaccination or of a blood test that shows you are immune to measles. Persons who cannot provide documentation may be quarantined until they can obtain documentation.

Now is a good time to make sure you have documentation of your immunity status readily available:

  • Locate your measles immunization record
  • Work with your healthcare provider to obtain records of your measles immunization or immunity status
  • Obtain measles vaccination if necessary

If you have been vaccinated, you are very unlikely to develop illness after exposure.

  • Call your healthcare provider if you develop fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, or rash.

If you think you may have measles, call before you visit any healthcare provider site
so that appropriate infection control precautions can be taken when you arrive.
Measles is highly contagious.


Vaccine Safety: Answers to Parents' Top Questions

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine Recommendations:

Information for International Travelers:

Measles Travel

In order to protect the public, the healthcare workforce, and prepare for potential measles exposures, providers are asked to review the following materials and guidance:

If you have a suspect measles case:

  • Use airborne infection control measures, mask, and isolate suspect measles cases preferably in negative pressure rooms or outdoor areas
  • Refer to " Should I Test for Measles?" healthcare provider guide
  • Call to report suspect measles cases 24/7 to Santa Barbara Public Health Department at (805) 681-5280 while the patient is in your facility
  • Collect laboratory samples. PHD staff must provide consultation and instructions before samples are submitted.
Sample Information:
  1. Urine: 10-50 ml in sterile container AND
  2. Dacron swab of throat (preferred) or nasopharynx, in viral transport
  3. Collecting Respiratory Specimens for Measles Testing Poster
  4. Measles Laboratory Testing Guidance

Provider Alerts

(June 6, 2019) Provider Alert- Measles Alert, Testing, and Documentation of Immunity

(April 22, 2019) Provider Alert- Recommendations for Measles Case Identification, Measles Infection Control, and Measles Case and Contact Investigations

Other Resources

Measles Clinical Features and Diagnosis
CDC's Dr. Manisha Patel describes clinical features of measles, how to diagnose it in a patient, and what to do if you suspect you have a case. Includes images of children with measles infection.

Preventing Exposures to Measles in Your Healthcare Facility: Guidance for Local Urgent Care Facilities for Preventing a Measles Exposure

Ask the Experts:  Measles and MMR Vaccination

Measles is very contagious (poster)