Measles: guidance, data and analysis

The symptoms, diagnosis, management, surveillance and epidemiology of measles.

Measles is caused by a morbillivirus of the paramyxovirus family. Early symptoms include the onset of fever, malaise (aches and pains), coryza (head cold), conjunctivitis (red eyes) and cough.

The most common complications of measles include pneumonia, ear infection, diarrhoea and convulsions. Rarely, measles can cause encephalitis and death.

Measles is a notifiable disease in England and Wales. Health professionals must inform local health protection teams of suspected cases.

Measles is vaccine preventable. In the UK children receive 2 doses of the combined measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine as part of the routine childhood immunisation schedule.

Clinical management

Data collection


To view notifications (confirmed cases) from 1995 to 2011, view the UK Government Web Archive.

  1. Measles: resources for local government
  2. Measles and rubella elimination UK
  3. Measles deaths
  4. Measles notifications, by age group, region and sex
  5. Measles: confirmed cases


Immunisation is the most effective way to protect against measles. Children should receive 2 doses of MMR before the age of 5 years.

In April 2013, Public Health England, NHS England and the Department of Health announced a national catch-up programme to increase MMR vaccination uptake in children and teenagers.

Vaccine uptake data for MMR are available through the Cover of vaccination evaluated rapidly (COVER) programme.

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 11 September 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added measles guidance and resources for local authorities.
  2. First published.