Frequently asked questions about measles

Guidance on the current measles outbreak from UCLA and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Measles FAQ

Media Contact

Ricardo Vazquez
310-206-3986

Download the Department of Health flyer >
UCLA statement on measles case >

Measles spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles is a health risk for students and staff who have never had measles or have not received recommended measles vaccine doses. Following precautions can prevent the spread of measles.

1. What is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious disease that is caused by a virus that lives in the nose and throat. The symptoms of measles include:

  • Fever (101°F or higher)
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red watery eyes
  • Rash of red spots. Some are slightly raised. Typically starts on the face or hairline and spreads to the rest of the body.

Measles can lead to serious illnesses, hospitalization, and even death. Serious illnesses include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Ear Infection
  • Brain Damage

Pregnant women, infants, young children, and persons with a weakened immune system are at the most risk for serious illnesses. There is no treatment for measles.

2. How is measles spread?

Measles spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. About 9 out of 10 people who have not had the measles vaccine will get measles if they are exposed to the virus. You can get measles if you share the same air with a person with measles, even up to two hours after the person has left the area. Measles can also spread before the infected person has symptoms.

3. Why are some students and staff receiving a Quarantine Notice

Some individuals are receiving a quarantine notice because they were exposed to measles, and haven’t provided required evidence of immunity. Being in quarantine means living separately from individuals who may not be immune until the end of the incubation period to avoid the spread of the disease. With regard to the current measles case on campus, the incubation period concludes on Tuesday, April 30. Only those individuals who have received a notice from campus officials regarding their exposure to measles need to be quarantined.

  • Exposed individual who live in on-campus housing are required to report immediately to the on campus location. 
  • Exposed individuals who live off campus may elect to report to the on campus location, or isolate themselves at home until the end of the incubation period. Any individual who cannot isolate because they share a room with others must report to the on campus location or make alternative living arrangements.

4. What does the notice require these individuals to do?

The notice requires that all exposed, unvaccinated individuals strictly follow the following set of precautions to protect themselves and reduce the chance that they will spread measles to others:

  • These individuals may not attend school or work. They must avoid any public places where they may come into contact with many people, including classrooms, study halls, libraries, places of worship, movie theaters, grocery stores, shopping centers, gyms, outdoor events, and sporting events.
  • If students need to go to The Ashe Center, they should call ahead 310-825-4073, enter the building via the side door, immediately put on a face mask, and tell the first staff member with whom they interact that they have been exposed to measles.
  • If staff or faculty need to see their physicians, they should call ahead and let them know they may have had exposure to measles.
  • These individuals may not use public or commercial transportation, such as buses, subways, trains, taxis, ride-shares, or airplanes.
  • These individuals may not have anyone visit them in their home/residence unless the public health department has determined that the guests are immune to measles.
  • These individuals must take steps to prevent the spread of the germs that can cause measles, such as always covering their mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.  

5. How long will individuals be required to follow the precautions in the notice?

The notice will remain in effect until:

1) These individuals provide documentation that they received the required number of doses of measles (MMR) vaccine, or
2) These individuals submit results of a blood test that show that they are immune to measles, or
3) These individuals reach the end of the incubation period (April 30, 2019).

6. What should I do if I don't feel well or develop symptoms that might be related to measles?

  • If students develop symptoms of measles, such as fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and/or rash, they need to call the Ashe Center at 310-206-6217.
  • If staff or faculty develop symptoms, they need to call their primary care physician.

7. What if I don't know my measles immune status?

  • In order to be considered immune, an individual needs to have received either 1) two doses of the MMR vaccine after the age of 1, or 2) had a blood test showing the presence of antibodies to the virus. If you don’t know whether you’ve been fully vaccinated or had the blood test, you should see your healthcare provider.
  • Students are encouraged to come to the Ashe Center to determine their immunization status. Measles vaccination is free to UCLA students.
  • Faculty and staff should contact their primary care providers to determine their immunization status.

8. How are we securing the safety of our campus?

As of fall 2019, all incoming UCLA students are subject to an immunization requirement. As such, they will need to provide proof of vaccination to measles (and other conditions outlined by the California Department of Public Health) in order to maintain their enrollment at UCLA.

For more information:

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health >
California Department of Public Health >
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) >