Measles outbreak in Europe – Travel advice (October 2017)
According to World Health Organization (WHO) since February 2016 there is an ongoing outbreak of measles in Europe. Since January 2016 and as of 6 October 2017 Romania has reported 9539 cases, including 34 deaths. Cases have also been reported in other European countries including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden Switzerland, and UK.
Transmission and symptoms
Measles is a highly contagious airborne disease. The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to 2 hours. The incubation period is about 10 days (ranging between 7 and 18 days). The symptoms of measles may appear approximately 7 to 14 days after a person is infected. Measles typically begins with high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis) and rash. Patients are considered to be contagious from 4 days before to 4 days after the rash appears.
All Greek travellers should ensure they are up-to-date with the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination, according to current national recommendations.
All non-immune adult travellers should be vaccinated with two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. According to the Hellenic National Vaccination Guidelines, all Greek adolescents and adults born after 1970 with no history of measles infection, or vaccination with MMR should be administered two doses of MMR vaccine.
In view of the risk of measles during travel to epidemic or endemic areas, infants between the ages 6 and 12 months should be vaccinated with a dose of the MMR vaccine. Since the response to MMR in infants is sub-optimal when the vaccine has been administered before one year of age, immunisation with two further doses of MMR should be given at the recommended ages.
Immigrants who return to their home countries (VFR’s) and travellers to areas with mass gatherings (e.g. sport events, concerts, pilgrimages) are considered high risk.
Contact your doctor:
- if you or your child develop symptoms compatible with measles such as fever and rash immediately. You are advised to inform the clinic before your visit so that appointments are arranged to reduce the risk of measles spread.
- if you have been in close contact with a patient with measles infection – even if you have no symptoms.