Extensive Measles Outbreaks Reported in Africa
The U.S. CDC issued a new Travel Alert regarding measles outbreaks in various African countries.
In Africa, health officials in the countries listed below have reported measles outbreaks, meaning the number of confirmed measles cases is higher than normal.
The CDC says ‘keep in mind that destinations reporting measles outbreaks are not the only places where the infection is a risk. Locations, where measles is common, may have many cases, but not be considered to have an outbreak.’
The CDC’s Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions notice published on September 15, 2020, stated ‘All travelers to Africa, including infants and pre-school aged children, should be fully vaccinated against measles, according to CDC immunization schedules.’
Caused by a highly contagious virus, measles spreads from person to person by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. People can unintentionally spread measles up to 4 days before and 4 days after they have a rash.
Furthermore, measles can also spread in airports, on public transportation, and at tourist attractions. Thus, it is critical for travelers to be protected against measles, regardless of destination.
Moreover, measles infections can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia, and even death.
Vaccination with a measles-containing vaccine is the best way to make sure that you are protected prior to traveling abroad, says the CDC.
There are two measles-containing vaccines available in the United States: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) for those aged 6 months and older, and measles, mumps, rubella & varicella (MMRV) vaccine for children aged 1 through 12 years.
If you are 12 months of age or older you need 2-doses of measles vaccine to be fully protected. Infants 6 through 11 months of age should receive 1-dose of vaccine, though this dose does not count as the first dose in the routine childhood vaccination series.
The CDC added ‘You are also protected if you have laboratory confirmation of a past measles infection or if you were born before 1957.’
If you are not sure if you or your travel companions are fully protected against measles, schedule an appointment to see your healthcare provider at least 1-month before traveling so that you have enough time to get vaccinated.
Some people should not get a measles-containing vaccine or should wait. If you don’t think you can safely receive a measles-containing vaccine, talk to your doctor and consider making alternative travel plans, says the CDC.
The African countries list in this Level 1 Travel Alert are as follows:
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- South Sudan
An updated list of suggested Travel Vaccines is published by Vax-Before-Travel.
Vax-Before-Travel publishes research-based travel vaccination news.