Traveler alert issued over measles, rubella

The Pan American Health Organization, a U.N. agency, has issued an alert urging nations to strengthen their international travel advisories so that they are protected against measles and rubella prior to departure. This recommendation applies to both incoming travelers and for those traveling outbound of the region, the agency said.

Due to upcoming cultural and sporting events that will be hosted by countries in the Americas, Pan American Health said it encourages nations to recommend vaccination against measles and rubella for all travelers to and from the countries of the Americas in order to reduce the risk of reintroducing these diseases that have already been eliminated in the Americas.

Travelers who are not vaccinated against measles and rubella are at risk of getting these diseases when visiting countries where these viruses are circulating. Country officials should seek to ensure vaccination, with particular attention to women of childbearing age to prevent any infection caused by the rubella virus during pregnancy.

The agency said that evidence of immunity to measles and rubella for travelers includes:

• Written documentation of having received the measles and rubella vaccines;

• Laboratory confirmation of rubella and measles immunity (a positive serologic test for the measles and rubella-specific IgG antibodies).

Travelers over 6 months old who are unable to present the documents indicated should be advised  to obtain vaccination for measles and rubella or preferably the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, said the health agency. Ideally, the vaccine should be administered at least two weeks before departure.

Travelers with medical problems involving vaccination for measles and rubella are the exception to the above instructions, aid the agency. In addition, infants under 6 months old should not be vaccinated, it said.

The agency said that for the duration of the trip and upon returning to their point of origin, travelers should take notice of the following symptoms: fever,  rash, cough, runny nose or conjunctivitis (red eyes).

If the traveler believes that they have measles or rubella, said Pan American Health, they should: remain in the place where they are lodging (hotel or home, except to go to a doctor. They should not travel nor go to any public places;and they should avoid close contact with other people for seven days following onset of rash.

The agency also advised personnel in the tourism and transportation sectors  to also be immunized against measles and rubella.

There have been some sports events that brought many spectators from other continents. In addition, the World Cup is planned next year in Brazil. That also is the country where Pope Francis is now hosting World Youth Day which had attracted great numbers of persons form all over the world.

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