CDC Issues International Measles Alerts for 2018

International travelers should protect themselves from measles prior to departure with the MMR vaccine

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their 2018 Watch Level 1 Travel Alert status for countries experiencing measles outbreaks.

On January 8, 2018, the CDC has issued a Watch Level 1 status for the following countries:

In the United States, most measles cases result from international travel. The disease is brought into the United States by people who get infected in other countries.

A 2017 study found that more than half the measles cases imported to the U.S. were from adult travelers who were not immune to the disease prior to traveling abroad.

Of U.S. adult travelers who presented pre-travel consultation, 16 percent met criteria for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination, but fewer than 50 percent of these travelers were vaccinated.

Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States.

The CDC recommends that international travelers protect themselves by making sure they are vaccinated against measles with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.

The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective, reports the CDC.

Before departure from the United States, 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 separated by at least 28 days.

Measles is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Measles virus is highly contagious and can remain so for up to 2 hours in the air or on surfaces.

Since the cost estimates for treating a measles case ranges up to $181,679, getting the MMR vaccination is a less expensive preventative measure.

Clinicians should keep measles in mind when treating patients with fever and rash, especially if the patient has recently traveled internationally, says the CDC.

In the USA, Merck is the manufacturer of two mumps vaccinations. MMR and ProQuad both contain the protection for mumps, as well as protection for measles and rubella.

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

Most pediatricians and pharmacies offer the MMR vaccine, and vaccine discounts can be found here.

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