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Measles

a.k.a Meezy

Horrible virus which infects travellers all over the world, causing cold-like symptoms, a fever, sore eyes and a blotchy rash. It can sometimes lead to pneumonia and encephalitis.

Key Fact

If you have not been vaccinated and are in close contact with someone who has measles, there is a 90% chance you will catch the disease.1

disease risk map

How do people catch the disease?

By breathing in tiny droplets spread by the coughs and sneezes of people infected with the measles virus. The virus survives for a few hours on surfaces and so can also be picked up on the hands and then carried to the mouth and nose.1

Which countries are affected?

Measles is rare in countries with effective programmes to vaccinate children. But measles cases are on the rise in some areas which used to have low rates (see map).2

This is because of scares about vaccination have made some parents reluctant to vaccinate their children, even though the evidence does not support these concerns.

What are the symptoms?

Coughs, sneezes and a runny nose; sore eyes; fever; patchy red rash, usually spreading from the head and neck to the rest of the body.3

How serious is the disease?

In most cases, the symptoms last no more than 7-10 days. But occasionally there are severe complications such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).4

Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

  • Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
  • Avoid contact with people who have measles since the disease is highly infectious.1

References:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles. Transmission of Measles. March 2017. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/transmission.html (Last accessed September 2017)

2. World Health Organization. Immunization Monitoring. Measles Reported Cases. September 2017. Available online: http://apps.who.int/immunization_monitoring/globalsummary/timeseries/tsincidencemeasles.html (Last accessed September 2017)

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles. Signs and Symptoms. February 2015. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/signs-symptoms.html (Last accessed September 2017)

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles. Complications of Measles. March 2017. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/complications.html (Last accessed September 2017)

 

UK/TRA/0817/0171o September 2017