Now that summer is in full swing, countless families are in the midst of a vacation or are possibly planning one, including international getaways. And if you're organizing a trip, you might be interested to learn more about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) measles travel warning for vacationers in Europe. The alert is an important reminder to make sure your family's vaccinations are up to date before you hop on a plane.
With all of the measles outbreaks currently going on in the United States, some families might not be as focused on what's happening in Europe regarding this highly infectious disease. But researchers at the CDC issued a warning Monday, June 17, reminding families that the measles outbreaks across Europe are just as alarming as the flare-ups in America.
“Measles is highly contagious, and the record number of measles cases in the WHO (World Health Organization) European region not only puts unvaccinated and inadequately vaccinated travelers at risk, but also increases the risk for non-traveling US residents who come into close contact with returned travelers who are ill,” CDC researchers wrote in an article published to Pediatrics.
To put the CDC's warning into perspective, the World Health Organization's (WHO) website states that 34,300 measles cases were reported in 42 countries across the WHO European Region in the first two months of 2019. The majority of cases are in Ukraine, followed by Serbia, Israel, France, Italy, Russia, Georgia, and Greece, WHO states.
What's even more alarming? Measles-related deaths have increased in the region from 2017 to 2018, with the stat jumping from 42 to 74, according to WHO. Additionally, the total number of cases in the European region rose from 25,869 to 83,540 total cases.
Dorit Nitzan, the acting regional emergency director at the WHO in Europe, said about the European epidemic, according to The Sun: “We have observed an unprecedented upsurge in people sick with this preventable disease, and too many have lost their lives to it."
Given the severity of the outbreaks in Europe, researchers have concerns about families who plan to travel to the region this summer and in the months to come. Of course, this isn't to say you should cancel your upcoming trip or rule out a Europe-based getaway in the future — it's just important to adhere to medical guidelines if you plan to travel outside of the United States. And a big piece of that puzzle is making sure your family's measles vaccinations (MMR vaccine) are up to date.
"The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that travelers between 6 and 11 months of age receive an early, additional dose if traveling to measles endemic countries," researchers advised in their report, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Families should discuss with healthcare providers the risk of international travel with infants under 6 months of age."
Taking things a step further, make sure your child gets their first dose of MMR between 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose between 4 through 6 years of age, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) website. As medical experts have noted, the only way to prevent measles outbreaks is to vaccinate.
If you have any concerns about the measles outbreaks in the United States and Europe, don't hesitate to reach out to a trusted medical professional for additional information.