Madagascar Measles Outbreak Reaches 3,239 Cases

Level 1 Travel Alert issued by CDC for Madagascar’s measles outbreak
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Alert regarding the measles outbreak in the country of Madagascar. 

This CDC Travel Alert means visitors to Madagascar should ensure they are vaccinated against measles with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. 

This measles outbreak started in the capital city, Antananarivo, on October 4, 2018, when 3 measles cases were confirmed at the Pasteur Institute of Madagascar.   

As of November 18th, a total of 3,239 measles cases have been reported, of which 182 were confirmed immunoglobulin M positive, and 3,057 were epidemiologically linked. 

Madagascar is an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, west of Reunion Island.   

Americans who cannot show that they were vaccinated or are otherwise protected against measles should get vaccinated before leaving the United States, says the CDC. 

Specifically, the CDC says: 

  • Infants (6 through 11 months of age) should have 1 dose of MMR vaccine, and,
  • Adults and children over 1 year of age should have 2 doses of MMR vaccine given on or after the first birthday and separated by at least 28 days. 

The only measles vaccines available in the USA are the MMR and the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccines. 

The MMR has been used safely and effectively since the 1970s. 

A few people experience mild, temporary, adverse reactions, such as joint pain, from the vaccine, but serious side effects are extremely rare, says the CDC.   

And, the CDC says there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. 

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. 

Symptoms of measles are rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Some people who become sick with measles also get an ear infection, diarrhea, or a serious lung infection, such as pneumonia. 

Although severe cases are rare, measles can cause swelling of the brain and even death, says the CDC. 

The CDC says that if you plan to travel to Madagascar, protect yourself against measles by getting vaccinated at least 2 weeks in advance of your trip. 

Additionally, the CDC says to make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines such as the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella, polio, and your yearly flu vaccination. 

International travelers can easily request a vaccination appointment with a pharmacy at Vax-Before-Travel.     

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information.

And, measles vaccine discounts can be found here.   

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the CDC.