Visiting Europe? Get Your Measles Shot

Record-High Number of Cases in France, Italy, Greece, Other Locations

Measles cases throughout Europe are at a record-high level, and U.S. travelers should make sure they are up to date with measles immunization, and other recommended vaccines, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of March 28, 2019, the World Health Organization European Region reported a total of 83,540 measles cases and 74 related deaths for 2018, the highest incidence since the 1990s.

France, Italy, and Greece, which are favorite destinations for U.S. travelers, have particularly high numbers of cases, as do Georgia, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine, which has the highest number of cases. Italy is the 10th most popular destination for American visitors and approximately 2.5 million Americans traveled to the country in 2015.

Officials are concerned because many people do not consider Europe as a place with infectious-disease risk. But the large number of measles infections in the region underscore the need for people to consult with their doctor before traveling.

Also, health care providers should be rigorous in checking for symptoms of measles among people who have recently been abroad. As measles is highly contagious, unvaccinated/under-vaccinated travelers to Europe are susceptible to infection; if travelers return home sick, they also increase the risk of infection for anyone they come across once they are back in the U.S.

Although measles was eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, that status is under threat.  As of June 13, the number of domestic measles cases has reached 1,044, which is the highest count since 1992.

In Europe, measles remains endemic in Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, and Ukraine.

A 2017 study revealed that one-third of U.S. travelers to Europe visited the region without being fully vaccinated against measles.

Source: MDedge, June 17, 2019