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Checked: 29-04-2024 by 5 Rob Adams Next Review: 28-04-2026


Measles is an important condition to diagnose due to its high infectivity and risk of complications. Early diagnosis can help reduce risk of spread of the condition during the infective stage. Early symptoms can be non-specific and include fever, malaise, coryza, conjunctivitis and cough.

Measles can normally be diagnosed by appearance of a rash which should be differentiated from other viral exanthems. See PCDS - Viral exanthems - for advice on recognition.

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

Latest Updates

Measles: Frequently Asked Questions - including latest advice (April 2024). Produced by NHS England 2024

NHS England » Confirmation of national vaccination and immunisation catch-up campaign for 2023/24

Notification and swabbing

Measles is a notifiable disease. If measles if suspected then the local PHE local area team* should be contacted immediately and an oral swab taken (viral swab) for confirmation. Oral swabs can be used for PCR if collected within 6 days of the onset of rash. A negative PCR result does not exclude a diagnosis of measles (1).

Patients should avoid public areas such as GP waiting rooms and should be seen separately away from other patient areas. 

Staff who are not fully vaccinated for MMR in accordance with the UK vaccination schedule, or who are vulnerable e.g. pregnant, should not perform swabbing.

*Public Health England (South West):

  • Telephone: 0300 303 8162 (option 1 then option 2)
  • Email: - secure email for patient identifiable emails.

patient information leaflet can be downloaded.


Please see the National Measles Guidelines (1) for advice on next steps.


(1) National measles guidelines - GOV.UK (

(2) Measles: post exposure prophylaxis


Efforts are made to ensure the accuracy and agreement of these guidelines, including any content uploaded, referred to or linked to from the system. However, BNSSG ICB cannot guarantee this. This guidance does not override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer, in accordance with the mental capacity act, and informed by the summary of product characteristics of any drugs they are considering. Practitioners are required to perform their duties in accordance with the law and their regulators and nothing in this guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Information provided through Remedy is continually updated so please be aware any printed copies may quickly become out of date.