Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that mainly affects children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after infection, and include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
Measles can be prevented by immunization. There is no specific treatment, and most people recover within 2-3 weeks. However, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea, ear infections and pneumonia, particularly in malnourished children and people with reduced immunity.
Between 2005 and 2008 China had an average measles incidence of 6.8 per 100,000 people and was responsible for over 90% of cases in WHO's Western Pacific Region. In 2006, China released a national programme to increase immunization coverage and established the goal of eliminating measles by 2012. Cases of measles in China dropped to 0.76 per 100,000 in 2011, a record low.