A report published Monday in the medical journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all US citizens "to receive all recommended vaccines, including measles,"This study follows what researchers describe as an" unprecedented "measles outbreak in the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The European Region of WHO comprises 53 countries, from Andorra to Ukraine. According to WHO data, 41,000 cases of measles were reported from January to June 2018 in these countries, including 37 deaths, a record number of deaths since the 1990s.
Ukraine has recorded the highest number of cases, with at least 23,000 reported; Serbia reported the highest number of deaths. At one point, the study notes that measles cases in both countries exceeded 600 people in a million.
France, Georgia, Greece, Italy and Russia also have many cases of measles. The study indicates that many of these countries are among the top international destinations for US travelers.
For example, 2.5 million Americans traveled to Italy in 2015, making it the 10th most visited country. That year, Italy reported 251 cases of measles – a number that has grown steadily each year. Italy has notified more than 2,600 cases this year to 28 March.
The researchers say that low vaccination rates are primarily behind the rise in measles cases, which may have spread to other countries, including the United States. Of the 336 cases of measles reported in the United States last year until December 20, 2018, 40 are of European origin and 12 of these cases have led to outbreaks in the United States.
The study urges travelers to consult a doctor before traveling abroad and to quote the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices when recommending vaccination of children under 1 year of age. .
"The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends travelers aged 6 to 11 months to receive an additional early dose when they visit countries with endemic measles," says Dr. ;study. "Families should discuss with health care providers the risk of traveling abroad with infants under 6 months old."
Researchers hope this information will change the minds of travelers who may have been reluctant to receive the recommended vaccines. The document cites a study of visits to the health care clinic prior to travel to the United States, which found that 399 travelers in Europe were eligible for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, but that 131 chose not to be vaccinated.
The measles virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted even without direct contact, as droplets suspended in the air can remain in an enclosed space for up to two hours after the patient's departure. The symptoms can however take up to two weeks.
Discolored spots in the mouth are usually the first symptoms to appear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other symptoms: rash, high fever, coughing, tearing, eye irritation and sinus problems.