Traveling to Europe? Beware of Measles, CDC Says

The agency's reminder said measles cases have been reported in 15 European countries during 2017: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The peak summer travel season for Americans has arrived, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a reminder July 19 for travelers to Europe and other global destinations: Take steps to protect yourselves against measles amid outbreaks of the disease.

CDC said more than 14,000 cases of measles have been reported in Europe since January 2016, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and during the past year, 35 people across Europe have died from the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

"Most measles cases in the United States are the result of international travel," said Dr. Gary Brunette, M.D., MPH, chief of CDC's travelers' health program. "Travelers get infected while abroad and bring the disease home. This can cause outbreaks here in the United States."

The advisory said measles cases have been reported in 15 European countries during 2017: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, again according to ECDC. The U.S. CDC has issued travel health notices for five European countries with measles outbreaks since November 2016, with the most recent being France on July 7. The others are Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Romania.

CDC recommends that anyone who isn't protected against measles either through vaccination or past infection should get vaccinated, including before international travel. Travelers should visit their health care professional at least 4-6 weeks before any international travel. "You may need this much time to complete a vaccine series, and your body needs time to build up immunity," according to the agency, which said measles is one of the most contagious of all infectious diseases -- approximately 9 out of 10 susceptible persons with close contact to a measles patient will develop measles.

The virus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and it can live for up to two hours in the air or on surfaces.

Any international travelers coming to the United States who develop measles symptoms should contact a doctor immediately. To learn more about measles vaccine recommendations, visit CDC's Measles Vaccination page.

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