Three Measles Hotspots To Avoid This Summer
According to various media reports, there are several measles hotspots to avoid during summer vacations in 2019.
To notify international travelers before departure, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Canadian Government issued Level 1 Travel Alerts for two of these measles hot-spots, Israel and England.
As of June 2, 2019, local media and health departments have published these measles outbreak updates:
- Jerusalem: Between March 2018 and February 2019 there were 3,590 cases of measles recorded in Israel, of which 2,110 were in the Jerusalem District. Most of the infections were reported in children under 9 years of age. Moreover, those born between 1957 and 1977 only received 1 dose of the measles vaccine and are only partially protected from this virus. More than 2 million Israelis, 23%, are either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated for the measles, according to a Channel 13 report in April 2019.
- London: Public Health England (PHE) has written to educators in the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster warning them to be vigilant for measles cases. Measles has so far been identified in pupils at Fulham Boys School, Chelsea Academy and St Marylebone Church of England School. PHE consultant in health protection Dr. Janice Lo said, “there has been a significant increase” in measles cases amongst northwest London residents since April 2019. During 2018, England reported 966 measles cases. PHE is estimating 219 cases already in 2019. Approximately 520,000 children in the UK are at risk for measles because they missed their recommended immunizations.
- New York City: As of May 29, 2019, there have been 550 confirmed measles cases in NYC since September 2018. If the Health Department identifies a person with measles or an unvaccinated child exposed to measles in certain ZIP codes, that individual or their parent or guardian could be fined $1,000. As of May 29th, 123 individuals have received summonses for being non-compliant with the Emergency Order. People who demonstrate they are immune from measles or have a medical condition that prevents them from receiving the vaccine will not need to get vaccinated. As of May 24th, 25,510 doses of the MMR vaccine have been administered to people who are under 19 years old.
The CDC’s updated measles vaccination recommendations for international travelers on May 13, 2019, are as follows:
- Infants (6 through 11 months old): 1 dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine before travel. This dose does not count as the first dose in the routine childhood vaccination series,
- People 12 months old or older, with no evidence of immunity or no written documentation of any doses: 2 doses of MMR vaccine before travel. The 2 doses must be given 28 days apart,
- People 12 months old or older who have written documentation of 1 dose and no other evidence of immunity: 1 additional dose before travel, at least 28 days after the previous dose.
Measles is a disease that can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs), and even death. It is caused by a highly contagious virus that is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Signs and symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes, says the CDC.
From January 1 to May 24, 2019, the CDC has confirmed 940 individual cases of measles in 26 states. This is the greatest number of measles cases reported in the USA since 1994.
Additionally, since January 2018, 47 of the 53 countries in the EU Region have together reported over 100,000 measles cases.
The monovalent measles vaccine is not available in the USA. Financial support programs for these measles vaccines can be found at Vaccine Discounts.
Additionally, the CDC says to check measles travel notices, which can be found at Travel Alerts.
And, pre-travel counseling sessions can be scheduled at Vax-Before-Travel.