Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus that lives in the nose and throat of an infected person.
The virus is released when an infected person breathes or coughs. It spreads easily from person to person through the air or by direct contact with nose or throat discharges from someone who is infected. Measles symptoms include fever and a rash that starts on the face at the hairline and spreads to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. A cough, runny nose, or red, itchy eyes might also be present. Symptoms usually begin 7–14 days after exposure, but can appear up to 21 days after exposure. Measles is a serious illness that can cause complications that lead to hospitalization and even death.
Measles is easily preventable.
A safe and effective vaccine that prevents measles is given as part of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or the measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) vaccine series. Since measles-containing vaccines became available in the United States, the disease has become rare in this country. Two doses of the vaccine are given to provide lifetime protection. The first dose is given at age 12-15 months and the second dose is given before kindergarten entry (age 4-6 years). Over 90% of the U.S. population is vaccinated against measles and approximately 95% of kindergarteners in Virginia are vaccinated against measles. However, infants younger than 12 months old are too young to be vaccinated. These infants and others who are not vaccinated are very susceptible to infection if they are exposed to someone with measles.
2021 Measles Outbreak
In 2021, a measles outbreak occurred in Virginia that affected the Central and Northern Health Regions of Virginia. As of November 8, 2021, 22 cases among people who had recently traveled from Afghanistan as part of the United States government’s emergency evacuation efforts (Operation Allies Welcome) were confirmed in Virginia between September 7 and October 15, 2021. The outbreak was declared over on November 8, 2021.
2021 Measles Outbreak Data
Total number of cases in Virginia: 22
Confirmed Measles Cases by Date of Onset
Confirmed Measles Cases by Region and Health District**
Confirmed Measles Cases by Age Group
Confirmed Measles Cases by Sex
*Data as of November 8, 2021. The outbreak was declared over on November 8, 2021. VDH does not expect to provide additional data updates. Cases are defined using the CDC/CSTE case definition available here.
**The region (or health district) is assigned based on the location at the time of diagnosis and does not imply permanent residency in Virginia.
More information about measles is available:
- General information
Last updated: November 9, 2021