Dear Doctor, in Europe there is apparently a severe measles outbreak. Does that mean that our family should not make our planned trip to Italy this spring?
Dear Reader: It is true that the number of measles cases in Europe has increased alarmingly. In 2016, there were 5,273 reported cases, according to health authorities, the number of people suffering from this extremely contagious disease, Last year, there were 35 deaths from measles, but due to the likelihood of incomplete reporting, health officials suspect that the number is actually higher.
The measles virus is spread by coughing or sneezing. Because the live virus can remain in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours after being expelled from an infected individual, it is extremely contagious.
Just go through a room where one or two hours ago someone either coughs or sneezes with the measles, you can contract the virus.
Symptoms include high fever, runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, and a characteristic rash of red spots. The rash typically begins on the head and then spreads to the rest of the body. Complications are common and include middle ear infections, diarrhea and dehydration, pneumonia, encephalitis, brain swelling, and even death.
At this time, 1
Germany reported 927 cases, France 520, the United Kingdom 282 and Spain 152 cases. Switzerland had 105 cases.
The increase in outbreaks was attributed to several factors: people who were deliberately not vaccinated, a deficiency in some regions of the MMR vaccine, and the lack of access to medical care by some marginalized groups. As in the United States, Vocal groups of anti-vaccine activists have opposed the practice of vaccination.
Concerning your upcoming trip, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued a Watch Level 1 Travel Notice for Italy in January of this year
This means that epidemiologists have assessed the situation and made the following recommendations:
• Travelers traveling to Italy should be vaccinated with the MMR vaccine against measles (measles, mumps and rubella) until departure. This includes infants between 6 and 11 months, who should receive one dose of the MMR vaccine.
• Adults and children 1 year of age and older should have received two doses of the MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days. 19659003] If you or someone in your family has not been fully immunized against measles, you may be at risk of contracting the disease if you come into contact with a sick person – be it in Italy or at a local grocery store. 19659003] If you are not sure if you have been vaccinated, another dose of the MMR vaccine will not hurt you. Your family doctor can also confirm the immunity by blood test.
Eve Glazier, MD, MBA, is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Ko, M.D., is an internist and family doctor at UCLA Health.