Measles is for Kids, Right?
Think again. It can strike adults, particularly those who are not immune and are traveling to at risk regions. Although measles in America is uncommon, since we vaccinate routinely here, in many parts of the world, measles is alive and well. There are 10 million cases of measles worldwide every year, with nearly 200,000 fatalties. Nearly 90% of measles cases in the U.S. are linked to a traveler entering this country. International travelers must review their routine vaccinations history with their travel doctors to verify if they are immune to measles.
Am I Immune to Measles?
There are only 2 surefire methods that a person can develop immunity to measles.
- Receive the proper measles vaccination
- Recover from measles infection
Most of us would prefer the first method. Last month, a California woman returned from abroad where she contracted a confirmed case of measles. This concerned local health officials who publicized various locations and stores she visited to warn the public of this potential measles exposure. Measles is a highly contagious virus and has increased risk for unvaccinated infants, pregnant women and individuals who have impaired immunity.
Where in the World is Measles?
Measles is present in many countries, including developed nations in Asia and Europe, including England and Wales. Folks traveling to London or to a Welsh castle may not consider these to be destinations that may require a travel vaccine. This is why advice and education from a trained travel physician is so important. Parts of Africa, South America, India and Southeast Asia are also higher risk regions for measles because of lower vaccination rates of these populations.
When you are discussing travel vaccinations with your travel doctor, you may need a measles vaccine if immunity against this virus is in doubt. Vaccination will protect you against the infection and will protect the rest of us when you come home.