Measles – Rubella – Mumps

MEASLES – RUBELLA – MUMPS

MEASLES

What is measles ?

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which is transmitted through breathing, coughing and sneezing. It is important to note that the virus can survive in the air or on surfaces for more than two hours. 

The symptoms of measles include skin rash, a fever, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes. In some cases, ear infections, diarrhea and severe pulmonary infections (such as pneumonia) may occur. Measles can potentially lead to swelling of the brain and to death. The disease is more likely to be severe among infants, malnourished persons and the people who have a weakened immune system.

What is the risk for travelers ?

Measles occurs all around the world, but travelers are at higher risk for the disease in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia, on Pacific islands and in Africa. The disease is present in the United States, but the virus has been imported from other areas in the world. The persons who are not immunized against measles (who are not vaccinated or who never had the disease) are especially threatened by the virus while traveling.

How to prevent measles ?

Vaccinations

The only effective protection against measles is the vaccination. If you are not immunized against the disease, you must see a doctor and make sure that you get vaccinated before your departure. If you are traveling with children, it is very important that they receive the adequate doses of vaccine before the departure as well.

Adults and children over the age of 12 months old should get two doses of vaccine, separated by at least 28 days. Young children between 6 and 11 months old should get one dose of vaccine before traveling. They will have to get two more doses separated by at least 28 days after their first birthday. Note that in the United States, children are normally systemically vaccinated against measles between 12 and 15 months old. Two types of vaccines are available : the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) and the MMRV vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella, varicella). The MMR vaccine is used since the 1970’s. It is safe and two doses of MMR vaccine provide nearly 100% effective protection against measles. Some people may experience mild side-effects after the vaccination, such as joint pain, but severe reactions are very rare. Contrary to rumors, there is no link between the measles vaccine and autism.

Hygiene

In addition to vaccination, you must always have good hygiene practices while traveling. It is especially important that you frequently wash your hands with clean water and soap, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Never touch your face, especially your eyes, your nose and your mouth, if you are not sure that your hands are clean. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue, never with your hands. Throw the tissue in a bin right after use. Avoid close contact with other people, like hugs and kisses, especially with persons looking sick. Never share your eating utensils and cups with anybody.

If you think that you may be infected with measles :

If you feel sick after traveling in a country at risk for measles and you think that you may be infected with the virus, you must see a doctor as soon as possible (especially if you have an acute fever). Inform your physician of the places you have visited. Remain isolated until you have fully recovered, to avoid the spread of the disease.

RUBELLA

What is rubella ?

Rubella is a viral disease spread through the coughs and the sneezes of infected people. It is characterized by a mild fever, skin rash and muscular pain. These symptoms usually last two to three days and appear after an incubation period of two weeks. Some victims of rubella don’t experience any particular symptom. 

The rubella virus penetrates into the body of its victim through respiratory route, but also through the placenta in the case of a fetus. If a pregnant woman is affected by rubella, her baby can be victim of serious birth defects, such as deafness, cataracts, cardiac abnormalities, mental disabilities and malformation of organs. The risk of transmission of rubella from the mother to the fetus depends on the stage of pregnancy. It is very high before the 9th week and very low after the 16th week.

What is the risk for travelers ?

Rubella occurs worldwide, but the disease is more prevalent in developing countries, where access to vaccines is limited. However, large outbreaks of rubella have been recorded in developed countries. All the international travelers who are not vaccinated against rubella are at risk for the disease. Rubella can affect all age groups, but the children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old are at higher risk. The travelers who are frequenting crowded areas or places where numerous children are present (like schools) are exposed to an increased risk. 

How to prevent rubella ?

Vaccination

To be fully protected against rubella while traveling, you must make sure that your vaccination against the disease is up to date. If you are not immunized against the virus, you must see a doctor and get the adequate doses of vaccine before your departure. Two types of vaccines against rubella are available : the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) and the MMRV vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella, varicella). The teenagers and the adults who are not immunized, as well as the children over the age of 12 months old, must get two doses of vaccine separated by at least 28 days. The young children between 6 and 11 months old who are traveling to another country must get one dose (they will have to get two more doses separated by at least 28 days after their first birthday). The MMR vaccine is used since the 1970’s. It is safe and effective. Some people may experience mild side-effects, like joint pain, but severe reactions to the vaccine are very rare.

Hygiene

In addition to vaccination, you must always have good hygiene practices while traveling to avoid being infected with rubella. Regularly wash your hands with clean water and soap, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, your nose and your mouth, if you are not sure that your hands are clean. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue, never with your hands. Throw the tissue in a bin right after use. Avoid close contact with other people, such as hugging or kissing, and never share your eating utensils and cups.

If you think that you may be infected :

If you feel sick after traveling and you think that you may be infected with rubella, you must see a doctor as soon as possible. Inform him/her of the places you have visited. It is important that you remain isolated to avoid the spread of the virus.

MUMPS

What is mumps ?

Mumps is a contagious viral disease, characterized by the swelling of the parotid glands (salivary glands), which are located under the ears. It is transmitted through the coughs and the sneezes of infected people, as well as through close contact with contaminated surfaces and items. The virus penetrates into the body of its victims via the respiratory tract and then uses the bloodstream to spread itself throughout the whole organism.

The symptoms of mumps include a fever, headaches, muscular pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, swelling of the salivary glands, pain in the ears, in the jaws or in one or both sides of the face. Most of the people who are affected by mumps fully recover. But in some cases, severe complications can occur and the disease may result in swelling of the brain, of the testicles (among males), of the ovaries and of the breasts (among females), as well as in temporary or permanent deafness. 

What is the risk for travelers ?

Mumps is a common disease which is present in many countries in the world. All the travelers who are not immunized against mumps (who are not vaccinated or who have never been infected with the disease) are at high risk, even if they go to industrialized countries. Several outbreaks of mumps have notably occurred in the United Kingdom since 2004. Japan is also affected by the disease, as Japanese people are not routinely vaccinated against mumps. The young children over the age of 1 year old who are not vaccinated face an extremely high risk of infection. The following unvaccinated groups of people are especially at risk for severe complications : pregnant women, the men who have only one testicle, the people suffering from hearing disorders and the persons who are working or living with infected people. Once vaccinated or having recovered from an infection with mumps, people are protected for life against the disease. 

How to prevent mumps ?

Vaccination

If you are not immunized against mumps, you must see a doctor and get vaccinated before traveling. Two types of vaccine protecting against mumps are available : the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) and the MMRV vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella, varicella). Adults and children over the age of 1 year old must get two doses of vaccine, separated by at least 28 days. The infants between 6 and 11 months old traveling to another country must get one dose. They will have to get two more doses separated by at least 28 days after their first birthday. Note that in the United States, children are systemically vaccinated between 12 and 15 months old. The vaccine against mumps is highly effective and safe. Some people may experience some mild side-effects, like joint pain, but serious reactions due to the vaccine are rare.

Hygiene

In addition to vaccination, you must always have good hygiene practices while traveling. Frequently wash your hands with clean water and soap, or with a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Never touch your eyes, your mouth and your nose if you are not sure that your hands are clean. Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing or coughing, never directly with your hands. Throw the tissue in a bin right after use. Avoid close contact with other people, like hugging or kissing, and never share eating utensils and cups.

If you think that you may be infected :

If you feel sick after traveling and you think that you may be infected with mumps, you must see a doctor immediately. Inform him/her of the countries you have visited and remain isolated until you have fully recovered to avoid the spread of the disease.

 


 

We make every effort to ensure that the information posted on our website is up to date and accurate according to the latest public health recommendations; however, it is impossible for us to make changes on a daily basis.

For the most current travel health recommendations, please call our clinic as make an appointment with one of our travel health professionals.