Measles (Rubeola)

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Measles Exposures in Des Moines Metro -  4/23/2018

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has informed the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) of a confirmed measles case who exposed Iowans to the highly contagious disease at locations in Des Moines and Ankeny. The infectious individual from Missouri traveled through Iowa and visited the following locations. Anyone who was in the locations at the referenced dates and times was exposed to measles.

Friday, April 13
8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Hardees (excluding the drive-through)
3621 Merle Hay Rd.
Des Moines, Iowa

Monday, April 16
Noon to 4:00 p.m.
Panera Bread
2310 SE Delaware Avenue
Ankeny, Iowa

If you were at the places during the times listed above, it is too late to receive preventive measures; therefore, if you have any symptoms consistent with measles (fever, cough, red/pink eyes, runny nose and/or a rash), call your health care provider immediately and arrange to be seen safely. Do not go to the doctor’s office, ER, local public health agency or a walk-in clinic until arrangements are made to be seen by your health care provider in a place and manner that will not potentially expose others to measles. Until arrangements are made, stay home; do not go into any public places.

Measles is easily spread through the air and there is no treatment for the illness, so prevention is critical. “Unfortunately, this situation is a great example of why all Iowans should check their personal and family immunization records to make sure their measles vaccinations are up-to-date,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Since it is too late to prevent these exposed people from coming down with measles, they could become ill and start spreading the disease any day now. That is why is it so important that anyone who has not received two doses of measles vaccine go in and get vaccinated today. That way if they are exposed in the next month or so when they go about their normal activities, they will be protected.” 


Measles (also known as rubeola and hard measles) is a highly communicable viral disease characterized by fever, cough, coryza (inflammation of the mucus membranes of the nose), conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye), and a maculopapular (red area on the skin with raised bumps) rash. It usually occurs in people who have not had the disease before or who have not had the vaccine for it.  

In the decade before 1963 when a vaccine became available, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. It is estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year. Also each year, among reported cases, an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles.  CDC

Measles is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health by Iowa Administrative Code 641 IAC 1 .



Signs and symptoms begin to appear about 7-21 days after being infected. The rash usually appears about 14 days after being infected.

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Fever (higher than 101° F)
  • Rash (flat red areas all over the body, with raised bumps )
  • Koplik spots (small spots with white or bluish-white centers on the inside of the cheeks)

Symptoms usually worsen for several days and may lead to the following complications:

  • Pneumonia
  • Swelling in the brain
  • Middle ear infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Death


Measles is caused by breathing in a virus carried on droplets from other people’s coughs and sneezes and less commonly from objects recently contaminated with infected droplets. Measles is one of the most contagious infections known to exist. People can spread measles for several days before they get the rash until several days after the rash develops.

Risk Factors

It is routine for children to be vaccinated against measles at 12 months and 4 years of age. Those who have not had these two doses of vaccine are at risk for measles. People born before 1957 likely had measles as children and less likely to able to catch measles, but being vaccinated is a good way to be sure. Measles vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines used today.


  • The best way to prevent measles is to get vaccinated with a measles containing vaccine. 
  • It is recommended that measles vaccine is given at 12 months and 4 years of age. Usually it is combined with the mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR). These two doses of vaccine are very effective at preventing measles infection throughout life.
  • Measles vaccine is required for entry into Iowa public and private schools, as well as licensed child care centers and preschools. Following the Iowa requirements on immunization greatly reduces the risk of children catching measles.
  • To view the childhood immunization schedule visit CDC’s Immunization Schedules
  • A person is thought to have measles will usually be isolated (kept away from other people or public places) for a period of time. Those people who have been exposed to measles and are thought may get sick may be quarantined (kept away from other people until laboratory testing confirms the absence of disease or symptoms fail to present).


No treatment can get rid of measles once it is established. However, there are actions that can be taken to protect those who have been recently exposed.

  • Immune globulin (IG) is sometimes used to treat someone who has been exposed and thought to likely get sick. If given within six days of exposure IG can either prevent the disease or make the symptoms less severe.
  • Measles vaccine can be given to unvaccinated people within 72 hours of exposure. The vaccine will either prevent the disease or make symptoms less severe.


There were no cases of measles reported to IDPH in 2017. The last confirmed case in Iowa was in 2011.    

For more detailed information and statistics on all notifiable diseases, please see our current annual report.

Additional Resources


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Evaluating Patients for Possible Measles Infographic

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