Don’t forget about your measles vaccination before your next trip

Written by Ronald St. John

June 18, 2017

Health | Travel

Don’t forget about your measles vaccination before your next trip

Measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to man. If you are not protected/vaccinated, there may be a 90% chance you will become infected with the disease just by being in the same room with an infected person.

People don’t think much about measles anymore since this virus has been eliminated from North America. Yet, in the United States, 667 cases were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 — the largest number of cases in a year since 1994. These infections occurred in people bringing the virus into the United States after being infected overseas.

Every day, there are outbreaks of measles somewhere in the world and not only in developing countries. In 2016–17, outbreaks were reported in many European countries (France, Germany, Romania, Italy, Ukraine, to name a few). Even one case of measles can trigger a major outbreak, particularly in communities or areas where there is a high number of people that never received immunization and are not immune.

More than half of U.S. adults who should be vaccinated against measles prior to traveling abroad don’t do so at health clinics. And, half of the people who needed vaccination refused the recommended vaccination because they weren’t worried about possible exposure while travelling. Even in specialized pre-travel consultations in travel medicine clinics, the need for measles vaccination updates may not be mentioned.

Although the measles virus may just cause fever-like reactions and symptoms, it can lead to more serious health consequences and hospitalization among children. While measles can be a very uncomfortable disease, it can also be fatal due to complications involving the lungs (pneumonia) and the brain (encephalitis). Children are at highest risk of complications.

So, for people who have never been immunized against measles, don’t take a risk. It is highly recommended that 2 doses of the measles vaccine be given to all travelers (including adults) prior to travel.

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