Travelling to Europe? Be sure your measles vaccination is up to date


Measles vaccination
Blood sample positive with Measles virus
As Europe deals with its biggest measles outbreaks since the 1990s, health officials are urging travellers to be up-to-date on their measles vaccination.

Researchers who work with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention are warning travellers to get their measles, mumps and rubella vaccines after a “record high” number of measles fatalities in Europe.

In 2018, European countries reported more than 83,500 measles cases, including 74 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A majority of cases were in the Ukraine, but Serbia, France, Italy, Greece, the Russian Federation and Georgia also had significant cases.

“Measles is highly contagious, and the record number of measles cases in the WHO (World Health Organization) European region not only puts unvaccinated and inadequately vaccinated travelers at risk, but also increases the risk for nontraveling US residents who come into close contact with returned travelers who are ill,” researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in an article published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

The CDC issued a global notice earlier this month about increasing measles outbreaks around the world. In just the first two months of this year, WHO said, more than 34,300 measles cases were reported across the European region.

The researchers argue that Europe is “widely perceived as being without substantial infectious disease risks.” Many travelers may not go to a travel clinic or consult their doctor about the vaccines they need, as they typically would before visiting more exotic locations.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be life-threatening. 

“Unvaccinated or inadequately vaccinated international travelers may become infected with measles virus in various ways, including contact with an ill person during travel abroad, during plane flights or other transport, or during a layover at a location with other international travelers,” CDC researchers wrote.

In New Zealand, a surveillance report by ESR on Tuesday, showed 215 New Zealanders have contracted the highly infectious virus so far this year. 

Read more: Italy bans unvaccinated children from school


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