Are YOU Spreading Measles?

Written by Madeline Sharpe

February 25, 2014

Health | Travel

Are YOU Spreading Measles?

When measles outbreaks occur anywhere in the world at any time, unvaccinated travellers may be exposed, becoming infected and inadvertently spreading the disease when they travel to their home countries before they become ill (e.g., during the incubation period).

The Philippines has experienced a major measles outbreak and health officials are warning clinicians across the globe to be alert for measles as this outbreak, which has reportedly killed more than two dozen children over the last year, may be slowly spreading to Canada, the U.S. and other countries. Canada has had 6 imported cases of measles so far this year, all of which have been linked to visits to the Philippines. There has also been a case reported in Hawaii.

In another instance this month, an unvaccinated university student at the University of California, became infected in Southeast Asia. He attended classes and rode the BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] public transit system last week, potentially exposing thousands to measles.

Measles is highly contagious. It spreads through infected droplets that are passed in the air when an infected person coughs of sneezes. It remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally.

According to the Toronto Star, approximately 122,000 people died from measles in 2012, mostly children under the age of five. As a result, all travelers are encouraged to ensure that their measles vaccination is up-to-date before they travel.

Remember that measles occurs worldwide at any time.

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