If you haven’t yet gotten yourself or your kids vaccinated against measles, there’s no better time to do it than now. Measles is making its way round the world once again, as evinced by the outbreaks reported in several countries despite the year just starting out.
Which Countries is Measles Common In?
The following countries have reported measles outbreaks in the first few months of 2019:
65 cases of measles have been reported in Hong Kong over the first three months of 2019. Aged from 8 months to 49 years, these individuals have been safely discharged from the hospital. 29 of them were employees in the Hong Kong International Airport and had contracted the disease while working. 2 cases involved healthcare workers and about 30 cases involved those who contracted the infection while overseas.
On April 9, a public health emergency was declared in selected areas in Williamsburg, Virginia in the United States due to a measles outbreak affecting the Orthodox Jewish community. Out of the 285 cases that have been reported since October 2018, the majority have been reported in the last two months. The disease has largely affected unvaccinated individuals and individuals with incomplete vaccination. 246 of those who contracted the disease are children.
A whopping 26,163 cases of measles were reported across 17 regions in the Philippines in just the first three months of 2019. 338 individuals were also reported dead from complications from the infection. The most affected age group is children between the ages of 1 and 4. The majority of the 26,163 individuals who contracted the disease were unvaccinated.
As of January 1st 2019, 350 cases of measles have been reported in France. 100 of them were hospitalised, 27 have experienced complications relating to the lungs and 1 has died from encephalitis (as a complication arising from measles infection). 90% of the individuals who contracted the disease were either unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated.
Over just the first two months of 2019, 3,938 suspected measles cases have been reported in Chad, including 19 deaths from the disease or complications arising it. The number of cases reported has been increasing gradually since the first week of 2019. Out of the 117 districts in the country, 86 have been affected by the measles outbreak. Due to inadequate laboratory reagents, measles confirmation tests have not been carried out on the affected individuals.
Over the first three months of 2019 1, 3723 suspected cases of measles have been reported across 36 states in Nigeria, with 305 of the cases confirmed by laboratory tests. These include 6 deaths. There has been a sharp increase in measles cases in the country this year when compared to the same period last year, where there were only 1943 suspected cases.
Just in the 7th week of 2019, 116 people died either from the measles infection or complications arising from the infection in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The number of measles cases reported in that same week is 2,806. The total number of cases reported in the country over the first two months of the 2019 is a staggering 22,685 and out of these, 399 people have died.
4 new confirmed cases of measles were reported in the first week of February 2019 in Mauritius. This number adds on to the 1,444 cases reported over a period of roughly one year (between March 2018 and February 2019). The most affected districts in the island are Port Louis and Black River. The number of cases however, have been declining since 2018.
Over a period of 8 months, from September 2018 to April 2019, 123,093 people in Madagascar have contracted measles. Out of these, 857 have died. The outbreak began on 3 September 2019 but the peak of the outbreak was the first week of February 2019. Since then, the number of cases reported has been on a steady decline. Those most affected by the disease are children between the ages of nine months and nine years.
Just in the 8th week of 2019, 2,751 cases of measles were reported in Ukraine – of these, 1438 were children and 313 were adults. Over a period of about two months (Dec 28 2018 to Feb 22 2018), 24,042 people in the country have contracted measles. Lviv, the largest city in Western Ukraine, was the region most impacted by the outbreak of the disease.
If you’re making holiday plans in Hong Kong, Mauritius, the Philippines or any of the countries in the above list in the next few months, it’s especially crucial that you get yourself and your travelling partners vaccinated against measles.
What is Measles?
The disease is viral in nature and highly infectious. There are many strains of it so symptoms can vary but distinctive symptoms are a fever, a skin rash made up of large, flat blotches that flow into one another, sore throat, a runny nose and inflamed eyes. Measles can also be fatal for young children, but is almost entirely preventable – all you need is a vaccine!
The Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine
Make an appointment with us or your nearest travel clinic at least two months before you travel so that you can be administered both doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. This is to make sure that you’re fully protected before you travel to these countries, which pose a considerable risk of transmission for the time being.
Remember that the second dose of the MMR vaccine can only be administered 28 days after the first one, so don’t wait till the last minute to get yourself protected. Two doses of the vaccine are 97% effective and one dose is 93% effective in protecting you from measles.
Plus, the vaccine offers you lifelong protection which means that you don’t have to worry about being confined to the sickbed with a bad case of measles ever again.
So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t been administered a Measles vaccine when you were a child or if you’re unsure about your immunity, make an appointment with us for travel health advice and vaccinations!