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Emerg Med J. 2019 May;36(5):310-314. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2019-208490. Epub 2019 Apr 3.

Could this be measles?

Author information

School of Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
Children's Emergency Department, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, UK.
Microbiology Department, Whiston Hospital, Prescot, UK.
Emergency Department, St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust, Prescot, UK.
Faculty of Health, Education and Community, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK.


Infection with the measles virus causes an unpleasant disease with many potentially serious complications. It is predominantly a childhood illness but can affect any age. Measles is extraordinarily contagious, but immunisation with measles containing vaccine provides comprehensive protection. An international programme of universal immunisation from the mid-1980s has been very effective; measles was declared eliminated in the USA nearly two decades ago and became a rarity in other countries with high rates of vaccine uptake. Until recently, this was a forgotten disease in high-income countries, but paediatricians, emergency and primary care physicians worldwide are now encountering measles with increased frequency. Attributed to international travel and pockets of vaccine hesitancy locally, new outbreaks of measles have been recorded in many regions thought to have been free of the disease. Because it was previously so uncommon, measles presents a diagnostic challenge and an unrecognised case may cause infection to spread among communities. The present article presents a case of confirmed measles infection and discusses the epidemiology, clinical features, investigation, management and prevention of measles.


emergency department; infectious diseases; paediatrics

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: None declared.

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