People travel – but so does measles

People travel – but so does measles

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided an update on the state of play of measles outbreaks worldwide and advised that people travelling internationally should be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before they set off.

It has warned that there are ongoing outbreaks in popular destinations, including Israel, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Ukraine, England, Brazil and the Philippines and that it has issued a Global Travel Notice: Watch (Level 1) for these outbreaks.

The disease is extremely contagious, and it is therefore important that travellers who are sick do not travel and avoid contact with others. The CDC advises that would-be travellers without evidence of measles immunity should contact their doctor and make an appointment to get the MMR vaccine. It pointed out that for those who are unsure whether they have had two doses of the vaccine, it is safe to get additional doses. Vaccination with two doses is nearly 100-per-cent effective at preventing the disease.

Advice for healthcare providers when it comes to providing counsel to patients is, before travel, to advise them to take all doses of their malaria medication, prevent bug bites, and seek immediate care if they have a fever after travel. Advice for healthcare providers relating to after travel is to consider diagnosis malaria for patients who have travelled to countries with malaria in the past year.

Measles is regularly making the headlines these days and not for the right reasons ─ the disease hasn’t been eradicated, although perhaps this could have been achieved without the damage caused by anti-vaccination campaigns. With continued education and the subsequent willingness of people to be vaccinated and vaccinate their families, hopefully the disease can be halted in its tracks.