Spread of Measles in Europe and Implications for US Travelers.


Travelers' Health Branch, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, [Email]


From January 2018 to June 2018, World Health Organization (WHO) European Region countries reported >41 000 measles cases, including 37 deaths, a record high since the 1990s. Low vaccination coverage in previous years is the biggest contributing factor to the increase in cases. The Ukraine reported the majority of cases, but France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, the Russian Federation, and Serbia also reported high case counts. Europe is the most common travel destination worldwide and is widely perceived as being without substantial infectious disease risks. For this reason, travelers may not consider the relevance of a pretravel health consultation, including vaccination, in their predeparture plans. Measles is highly contagious, and the record number of measles cases in the WHO European Region not only puts unvaccinated and inadequately vaccinated travelers at risk but also increases the risk for nontraveling US residents who come into close contact with returned travelers who are ill. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage US travelers to be aware of measles virus transmission in Europe and receive all recommended vaccinations, including for measles, before traveling abroad. Health care providers must maintain a high degree of suspicion for measles among travelers returning from Europe or people with close contact with international travelers who present with a febrile rash illness. The current WHO European Region outbreak should serve to remind health care providers to stay current with the epidemiology of highly transmissible diseases, such as measles, through media, WHO, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports and encourage measles vaccination for international travelers.