Measles Home > Diagnosing Measles

Before making a measles diagnosis, your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and will also perform a physical exam to check for symptoms of measles. The healthcare provider may also order a blood test to help in making a diagnosis. In addition, the healthcare provider will consider other possible conditions that share similar symptoms.

How Is Measles Diagnosed?

In order to make a measles diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions (medical history), including questions about:
  • Symptoms
  • Current medical conditions
  • Current medications
  • Family history of medical conditions.
The doctor will also perform a physical exam to look for signs or symptoms of measles. Diagnosing measles can often be done just based on a person's symptoms and the findings of the physical exam. If the doctor is unsure, he or she may order a blood test to look for antibodies to the measles virus, or a throat culture to look for the virus itself.

Is the Diagnosis Measles or Another Medical Condition?

Several other medical conditions can have signs or symptoms that are similar to measles. The doctor will consider these conditions before diagnosing measles. Some of these conditions include:
  • German measles (rubella)
  • Mononucleosis (mono)
  • Toxoplasmosis (infection in tissues of the body)
  • Syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease)
  • Scarlet fever
  • Reaction to medications
  • Kawasaki syndrome (disease in the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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