Keep you and your family safe from the measles and other infectious diseases by taking precautions before traveling. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you visit a doctor or nurse 4-6 weeks prior to travel. With an increase in measles outbreaks the CDC strongly recommends making sure everyone has a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) shot at least 4 weeks prior to traveling.
In the US alone from January 1 to March 29, 2015- 178 people from 17 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles. This past January, national news outlets spread word of a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in California. This breaking story was shocking to many, as measles had previously been declared eliminated in the U.S. in the year 2000. Each year, unvaccinated people get infected while in other countries and bring the disease into the US and spread it to others. Measles cases and outbreaks still occur in countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Worldwide, about 20 million people get measles each year; about 146,000 die.
“The measles outbreak raises concerns about vaccination rates across the country and how both children and adults should best protect themselves from getting measles,” said Vail Valley Medical Center’s President and CEO Doris Kirchner. “Our experts agree vaccinations are critical to community health.”
A quick Internet search will reveal that one of the reasons parents choose not to vaccinate their children is due to fears of immunizations causing autism. This stems from a 1998 British study by Andrew Wakefield that concluded there might be a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This study was later widely discredited and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license.
Wakefield’s refuted study “really hurt society” in that it allowed for misinformation to influence the general public’s perception of immunizations, downplaying the serious risks associated with not getting vaccinated.
The FACTS about Measles provided by the CDC
How is measles spread?
Measles spread easily through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. It is so contagious that anyone who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease.
What are the symptoms of measles?
- High fever (may spike to more than 104°F)
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes
- Rash breaks out 3-5 days after symptoms begin
How to protect yourself from the measles
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine protects against all 3 diseases. Two doses of MMR vaccine provide 97% protection against measles. People who cannot show that they were vaccinated as children and who have never had measles should be vaccinated. If you are unsure you were vaccinated as a child another dose of the MMR vaccine will not harm you.
What to keep an eye out for upon your return home
Watch your health for 3 weeks after you return from traveling, especially internationally. If you or your child gets sick with a rash and/ or fever, call your doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor that you traveled and where, and if you have received the MMR vaccine.
For more information on the measles and other infectious diseases, along with diseases that are prevenant in locations you are traveling to visit the CDCs Traveler’s Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel .