Global risk of increase in measles

14 December 2021

Article: 55/5004

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that measles remains endemic in many countries worldwide, with health services and national vaccination programmes severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a risk of increasing numbers of measles outbreaks.

Measles is a highly infectious viral infection spread via airborne or droplet transmission. Symptoms include fever, rash, cough, coryza or conjunctivitis and may lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications in some people.

Measles is most common in young children, but all ages are at risk if they have not been fully vaccinated or had prior measles infection.

Advice for travellers

Travel may increase an individual’s risk of exposure to measles virus, and facilitate the spread of disease to unvaccinated and susceptible populations. It should be confirmed that children have received their recommended doses of the MMR vaccine at 12 to 13 months of age and again around three years four months. Consider vaccinating all unimmunised adults who have not had the disease themselves, particularly if they are going to be at higher risk. Two doses of MMR vaccine, at least one month apart, are required to give adequate protection.

Further information and advice can be found on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.

Source: TRAVAX, 2 December 2021