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Don’t Let Measles Be Your Travel Souvenir

Large group of people travelingStay safe and healthy when traveling overseas. Measles is very contagious and can cause serious illness, even death. Make sure you and your family are vaccinated for measles before you travel.

Are you traveling overseas? You might not think about measles when you are preparing for your trip, but it is a health risk in many destinations. Make sure you and your family are vaccinated for measles and other disease before you travel. After your trip, you want to bring home fun souvenirs, a camera full of photos, and fantastic memories—NOT measles!

Facts about measles

How is measles spread?
Measles spreads easily through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. It is so contagious that anyone who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease.

Did you know?

Measles can cause serious illness.

  • About 3 out of 10 people with measles will develop one or more complications, including pneumonia, ear infections, and diarrhea.
  • Complications are more common among children younger than 5 years and adults older than 20 years.
  • One out of 20 children with measles gets pneumonia.
  • About 1 out of 1,000 children with measles gets inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
  • For every 1,000 children who get measles, 1or 2 will die from it.
  • Measles is also dangerous for pregnant women, increasing the risk of having a miscarriage, giving birth prematurely, or having a low-birth-weight baby.

What are the symptoms of measles?
Symptoms include fever; runny nose; red, watery eyes; cough; and a rash all over the body. Measles can cause serious illness, even death.

Learn more about measles.

Travelers have brought measles into the United States

Measles is almost gone from the United States due to vaccination. When cases do arise, they are usually related to international travel. The disease is brought into the United States by people who get infected in other countries. They then spread the disease to others, and this can cause outbreaks of measles.

Measles remains a common disease in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. More measles cases have been reported in the United States in the first 2 months of 2014 than during the same months each year since measles was eliminated in 2000.

So far in 2014, there have been more US travelers returning from the Philippines with measles than any other destination. Learn more about the outbreak of Measles in the Philippines. Most of the measles cases imported into the United States from the Philippines this year have been among unvaccinated children younger than 2 years of age.

Before You Travel

After You Travel

You can protect yourself from measles

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated. People who cannot show that they were vaccinated as children and who have never had measles should be vaccinated.

Before any international travel—

  • Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should have 1 dose of measles vaccine.
    • Children in the United States routinely receive measles vaccination at 12–15 months of age.
    • Infants vaccinated before 12 months of age should be revaccinated on or after their first birthday with 2 doses, separated by at least 28 days.
  • Children 12 months of age or older should have 2 doses separated by at least 28 days.
  • Adolescents and adults who have not had measles or been vaccinated should get 2 doses separated by at least 28 days.

For more information, see "What can travelers do to prevent measles?"

Check CDC's Travelers' Health website for your destination to find other tips to keep you healthy while you travel. See a doctor or nurse 4–6 weeks before you travel, and be sure to share where you will be traveling overseas.

Watch for measles after you return

Watch your health for 3 weeks after you return. If you or your child gets sick with a rash and fever, call your doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor that you traveled and where. Your travel history helps the doctor think about diseases that might not normally occur in the United States.

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