A health advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns U.S. citizens to ensure they are fully protected against measles before traveling internationally this summer.
The advisory also reminds clinicians and public health officials to provide guidance for measles prevention to international travelers and to be on alert for cases of measles.
Measles (rubeola) is extremely contagious; one person infected by measles can infect 9 out of 10 of their unvaccinated close contacts. As of June 8, 2023, CDC has been notified of 16 confirmed U.S. cases of measles across 11 jurisdictions, with 14 (88%) linked to international travel. Based on current estimates, twice as many Americans are planning to travel internationally in 2023 compared with 2022. Many countries and popular travel destinations, such as London, England, have experienced measles outbreaks in recent years. The United States has seen an increase in measles cases during the first five months of 2023, with 16 reported cases compared with three in 2022 during the same period. Most of these cases were among children who had not received measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
To prevent measles infection and spread from importation, CDC says all U.S. residents should be up to date on their MMR vaccinations, especially prior to international travel regardless of the destination.
CDC has published guidance for travelers in lie with the advisory:
- Consult with your doctor several weeks before traveling abroad, regardless of your destination, to see if you or any dependents need MMR vaccine. You should be up-to-date on all routine vaccines, such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), tetanus, and flu. Depending on where you’re going and what activities you plan, other vaccines may be recommended.
- Two doses of MMR vaccine provide better protection (97%) against measles than one dose (93%). Getting MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps, or rubella.
- At least one of the following is considered evidence of measles immunity for international travelers: 1) birth before 1957, 2) documented administration of two doses of live measles virus vaccine (MMR, MMRV, or other measles-containing vaccine), or 3) laboratory (serologic) proof of immunity or laboratory confirmation of disease
- You should plan to be fully vaccinated (two doses) at least two weeks before you depart.
- After international travel, you should watch for signs and symptoms of measles for three weeks after you return to the United States. If you or your child gets sick with a rash and a high fever, call your doctor. Tell them you traveled abroad and whether you or your child have received MMR vaccine.
- Before your next trip, check your destination and CDC’s Global Measles Travel Health Notice for more travel health advice, including where measles outbreaks have been reported.