As early as the ninth century, a Persian doctor wrote about measles. In 1757, Dr. Francis Home, a Scottish doctor, demonstrated that measles is caused by an infectious agent in the blood.
Measles became a nationally notifiable disease in the United States in 1912, requiring doctors and laboratories to report all diagnosed cases. An average of 6,000 measles-related deaths were reported per year from 1912 to 1922. In the first half of the twentieth 20th century, nearly all children got measles.
Encephalitis (swelling of the brain) was a possible side effect of measles. Other symptoms included high fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes, tiny white spots inside the mouth, red rash, usually beginning at the head.