Measles in Michigan

Understanding measles and how to prevent infection.

Photo of a woman taking care of a sick child.

In 2019, 43 people in southeast Michigan became infected during an outbreak of measles. On March 5, 2024, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a notice that there are three confirmed cases of measles in Michigan. These are the first cases of the disease reported in Michigan since the outbreak in 2019.

Measles, also known as Rubeola, is a highly contagious viral infection found in the nose and throat of an infected person. When someone who is infected with measles talks, sneezes, or coughs, they spread droplets from their nose and mouth into the air where others can breathe them and get infected as well. These droplets can linger in the air for approximately one hour and can live on surfaces such as a counter or door handle for several hours where others are likely to encounter them and risk infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that measles symptoms typically include a high fever that can get above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis (red, watery eyes) and rash among others. These symptoms usually appear between 7-14 days after contact with the virus.

The measles vaccine remains the best way to prevent infection. The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella or MMR and the Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella or MMRV vaccines are the two variations available for use today. MDHHS states that the measles vaccines are highly effective, ranging from 93-97% effective at preventing the disease depending on whether it is a single or double dose of the vaccine. The CDC states that before measles vaccinations started in 1963, approximately 3 to 4 million people were infected every year in the United States alone. While measles vaccinations have led to over a 99% decrease in infections since 1963, the virus still kills over 200,000 people a year, most of which are children.

Getting communities vaccinated against measles remains a high public health priority, especially given the resurgence of the disease in the United States in recent years.

If you have a health condition that precludes you from being able to get vaccinated, there are several strategies that may help prevent a measles infection.

  • Not sharing drinks and food with others.
  • Avoiding contact like hugs, kisses, and shaking hands.
  • Avoiding travel to places known to have measles outbreaks and low measles vaccination rates.
  • Being cautious to not touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching highly used surfaces such as countertops and doorknobs.

Everyone is encouraged to talk to their healthcare provider or child’s pediatrician to see if the measles vaccine is right for them.

Help finding a healthcare provider:

If you need help finding a doctor, try searching for primary care physicians in your area that are highly recommended, search your insurance provider’s website for doctors in your network, or ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors. There are also search engines that can help you narrow your search based on region and specialty needed.

Where can you find vaccines?

To find a vaccine, check with your primary care physician, local health departments, pharmacies, and clinics. You can also visit to locate a vaccine clinic near you.

If you would like to learn more about vaccines, check out Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan Vaccine Project to find links to event schedules, podcasts, publications, webinars, and videos relating to vaccine education.

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