About Measles, Mumps, & Rubella

Measlesmumps, and rubella (MMR) are grouped together because the MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects against all three diseases. They are all caused by viruses and are very contagious. They spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing.

Measles (rubeola): Measles infection causes fever, runny nose, cough, and a rash all over the body. In more serious cases, ear infection, seizures, pneumonia, or brain damage can result. Measles is highly contagious and can be a serious illness resulting in death in some cases.

Measles can cause serious health complications, such as pneumonia or encephalitis, and even death.

Children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are at high risk of getting a serious case of measles. 
About 1 in 4 unvaccinated people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized.
1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling (encephalitis).
1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care.
Before the U.S. measles vaccination program started in 1963, about 3–4 million people in the U.S. got measles each year; 400–500 of them died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 developed encephalitis because of measles.

2016 Measles cases

From January 2, 2016 to February 5, 2016, 2* people from 2 states in the U.S. (California and Texas) have been reported as having measles.
*Preliminary data reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, updated monthly.

Mumps: Mumps infection starts out with flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Next, the salivary glands become swollen and painful. Mumps is a very contagious disease. Serious cases of mumps can result in deafness or fertility problems.

Rubella: Rubella infection causes high fever and rash lasting a few days in most people. Rubella is much more serious for some people. Pregnant women who get rubella can pass it to the fetus, causing abortion, death, or preterm delivery. In newborns, rubella can cause a very serious disease called congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). CRS can cause:

  • Deafness
  • Serious defects of the eyes, heart, and brain
  • Mental retardation
  • Fetal and newborn growth problems.





 Updated 3/9/16


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