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Summer Vacation & Measles

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

It is the time of year when many families start planning for summer travel.  While trying to decide when and where to go, some families may choose international travel.  If you are planning on travelling outside of the United States, and have infants or toddlers, it is important to be aware of some recommendation just published by the CDC.

The CDC has just reported an increase in the number of “imported” measles cases seen in U.S. children 6-23 months of age after having returned from international travel.

There were 13 cases of  “imported” measles  (7 cases among children in the 6–23 month age range) reported in the first 2 months of 2011, as compared to a typical 12 month period when there are 3-8 children who acquire measles.

Although measles is a rare occurrence in the United States, measles is still endemic in much of the world (don’t just think third world countries, Europe currently has big outbreaks, including popular travel destinations such as France, Germany and England). With that being said, there are also measles cases being reported in different areas of the U.S  (unrelated to international travel.

Texas is one of the states that has recently reported 3 cases of measles, which are thought to have been acquired while visiting Orlando, Fla.

My colleagues in Texas are “on the lookout” for more new measles cases, as the incubation is up to 21 days post exposure.  These data just reinforce the need to continue to vaccinate all children against MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) as recommended between 12-15 months of age.

But, the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) does recommend earlier MMR vaccination for young children who are travelling outside of the United States.

So if you are planning on taking “baby Jack” to see the Eifel Tower, you need to talk with your doctor about MMR vaccine.. In cases of international travel, a MMR vaccine is recommended for all children who are at least 6 months of age.

If your child is over 12 months of age and has received their 1st dose of MMR, they should also receive a second MMR separated by at least 28 days from their first vaccine prior to travel if possible. For children who are not traveling outside of the U.S. the recommended schedule for MMR vaccine remains at 12-15 months and then again between 4 -6 years of age.

Measles is a highly contagious disease and typically causes fever, a diffuse red rash, cough, and may cause pneumonia and encephalitis and even death.  Of the 7 cases in children between 6 – 23 months reported from Jan. and Feb of this year, 4 required hospitalization for several days, but luckily there were no deaths.

As we approach the travelling months, stay tuned for more immunization updates and news.  Always go to to get the latest information as it relates to international travel, as recommendations are updated and change.

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

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