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Measles Outbreaks in England & Greece Prompt CDC to Issue Travel Watch

JAN 02, 2018 | KRISTI ROSA
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released travel watch for those heading to England or Greece, as health officials from both countries have reported outbreaks of measles, a highly contagious disease that remains common in many parts of the world.

Caused by a virus that is easily spread through the air via breathing, coughing, or sneezing, 36 cases of measles per 1 million persons are reported annually, and, according to the CDC, around 134,200 individuals die from the disease.

Measles outbreaks have been springing up all over Europe in recent months, which is why the CDC is stressing the importance of vaccination, especially for travelers. The CDC reports that the majority of measles cases that are reported in the United States are due to international travel, with unvaccinated individuals unknowingly bring home the disease where it spreads quickly to others; this is how outbreaks happen.

The “CDC recommends that travelers to England/Greece protect themselves by making sure they are vaccinated against measles with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine,” the travel notice reads. “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.”

Vaccination against the disease continues to remain an issue, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). “Of all measles cases reported across the one-year period 1 October 2016 – 30 September 2017 with known vaccination status, 86% were not vaccinated,” the ECDC shares in a recent press release. Although the disease is increasingly affecting individuals of all age groups throughout Europe, the ECDC reports that almost half, 47%, of measles cases reported in 2017 occurred among those 15 years or older.

“The four countries most affected by measles over 2016 and the first half of 2017 show different trends,” the ECDC reports. “Romania saw a sharp increase in cases from October 2016, and the trend continues in 2017; in Italy, the increasing trend started in January 2017, while in Germany it began in February 2017; Greece has seen a measles outbreak starting in the second half of 2017, with 153 cases reported since mid-October.”

The case count in Greece has more than tripled since then, according to popular news source NBC News, with more than 500 reported cases thus far. As for the situation in England? “English health authorities have reported more than 50 measles cases in Leeds, Liverpool, and Birmingham,” according to NBC News.

The CDC reminds clinicians to be cognizant when treating individuals exhibiting the telltale signs associated with measles—rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes—especially if the patient reports having recently traveled internationally.
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