What is measles?

Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease. It is caused by a virus that travels in the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, sneezes, or talks.

Measles was previously widespread in North America. It has become more rare because of the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns. Even today, Quebec sometimes experiences measles outbreaks.

Measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children worldwide. Yet there is a safe, effective vaccine against this disease.


The first symptoms of measles are as follows:

  • fever;
  • nasal congestion with a runny nose;
  • cough;
  • conjunctivitis (runny red eyes);
  • light-sensitive eyes;
  • general malaise.

Then, red areas appear on the face and then on the body.

It can take 10 to 14 days (exceptionally up to 21 days) between exposure to the measles virus and the onset of symptoms. This is called the incubation period. A person starts to be contagious 4 days before the appearance of the red areas and can remain contagious for up to 4 days after they appear. Measles lasts from 1 to 2 weeks.

If you have measles symptoms, since it’s highly contagious, we recommend that you contact Info-Santé 811 before going to a medical clinic or to emergency. 

Go to for all the details about measles.

Cases reported in Quebec

To find out about exposure locations in Quebec, please go to the Measles Outbreak section of

Have you been in contact with a case of measles?

In Quebec, a person will be protected against measles if:
  • He/she was born after 1980 and received 2 doses of vaccine starting from the age of 12 months.
  • He/she was born between 1970 and 1979 and has:
    • previously had measles and has proof (medical certificate or blood test);
    • received a dose of vaccine and is not a health care worker, traveller, or military member;
    • received two doses of vaccine if he/she is a health care trainee or worker, a traveller, or military recruit.
  • A person born before 1970 is considered protected, even without a vaccine.
Examples of measles vaccine names:
  • Priorix-Tetra
  • MMR II
  • ProQuad
  • Attenuvax
  • Moru-Viraten
  • Rimevax
  • RRO
  • Trivirix
  • Measles vaccine

All infected people can have complications, but especially:

  • Children under 1 year of age;
  • Pregnant women (risk of miscarriage or premature delivery);
  • People with a weakened immune system.

If you’re protected against measles, it is very unlikely that you will get the disease.

As a precaution, we recommend that you watch for the appearance of measles symptoms until the date indicated in the table.

Consult a health care professional promptly.

To avoid spreading measles:

  • Avoid using public transit.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Contact your medical clinic or health facility in advance to inform the staff of your arrival and your condition.
  • If you go to emergency, alert the staff as soon as you arrive that you have been exposed to measles.
For more information, see the section When to Consult – Measles on