Don’t Let Measles Be Your Travel Souvenir
Stay safe and healthy when traveling abroad. Measles spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. It can cause serious illness, even death. Make sure you and your family are vaccinated for measles before you travel.
Are you traveling abroad? 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 diseases before you travel abroad.
After your trip, you want to bring home fun souvenirs, a camera full of photos, and fantastic memories—not 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.
What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles symptoms typically include:
- High fever (may spike to more than 104°F)
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes
- Rash breaks out 3-5 days after symptoms begin
Learn more about measles.
Travelers who are not vaccinated are at risk of getting measles
Each year, unvaccinated people get infected while in other countries and bring the disease into the United States and spread it to others. Measles cases and outbreaks still occur in many parts of the world. Each year, an estimated 10 million people are affected by measles and measles kills almost 110,000 people around the world. The majority of measles cases that are brought into the United States come from unvaccinated U.S. residents.
Measles is highly contagious and can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. An infected person can also spread measles to others 4 days before the rash even develops.
You can protect yourself from measles
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine protects against all 3 diseases. Two doses of MMR vaccine provide 97% protection against measles.
Before you leave for your trip, check the CDC Travel Notices on measles.
Before any international travel—
- Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine.†
- Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.
- Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity* against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.
† Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses according to the routinely recommended schedule (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at 4 through 6 years of age or at least 28 days later).
* Acceptable presumptive evidence of immunity against measles includes at least one of the following: written documentation of adequate vaccination, laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of measles, or birth in the United States before 1957.
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. If you’re traveling internationally, make sure to get up to date on all your MMR shots. You should plan to be fully vaccinated at least 2 weeks before you depart. Getting your MMR vaccine in advance of your travels ensures that your body has time to respond to the vaccine, so that you are protected from measles before you leave the country. If your trip is less than 2 weeks away and you’re not protected against measles, you should still get a dose of MMR vaccine.
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 abroad, and if you have received MMR vaccine.