An increasing number of measles cases are being reported from various parts of the world. If you plan to embark on an international journey and have not been fully vaccinated or had measles in the past, it's crucial to be aware that you may be at risk, especially if you're heading to regions where the measles virus is actively spreading.
It's advised that all global wanderers, from infants aged 6–11 months to preschool-aged children, ensure that they're fully immunized with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. This also includes adults who've not had their measles vaccine.
If during or after your trip you experience symptoms like a high fever, cough, runny nose, red watery eyes, or rash, promptly seek medical help. Be sure to inform the healthcare facility about your symptoms before your visit to allow them to take necessary precautions to prevent further spread within the facility, as measles is highly infectious.
The Current Measles Landscape
Measles continues to pose a significant risk worldwide. A surge in measles cases has been reported in numerous countries, primarily due to insufficient vaccination rates and sometimes due to challenges in maintaining a vaccine cold chain in certain destinations. Here's a list of the countries reporting substantial measles outbreaks:
- Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Republic of the Congo
- South Sudan
How Can Travelers Safeguard Themselves and Others Against Measles?
Ensuring that you and your travel companions (infants 6 months and older, children, and adults) are fully protected against measles is essential before setting off on any overseas journey.
Immunization with an MMR vaccine is the most effective way to protect yourself. Infants aged between 6 and 11 months should receive one dose of the MMR vaccine. Those who received one dose before their first birthday should follow the recommended schedule and get another dose between 12–15 months and a final dose between 4–6 years. Children 12 months and older should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, with a minimum gap of 28 days between doses. Teenagers and adults lacking proof of immunity should receive two doses of MMR vaccine with a gap of at least 28 days.
If you are unsure whether you or your travel companions are fully protected against measles, it's advised to schedule a consultation with your healthcare provider at least a month before your planned travel. This allows enough time for vaccinations if needed.
Please note, some individuals may not be able to safely receive a measles vaccine. If you believe you fall into this category, discuss it with your healthcare provider and contemplate altering your travel plans accordingly.