Measles is a very infectious disease, spread through coughing and sneezing, and there is currently an outbreak across Europe. Twenty countries are currently affected, including France, Italy, Greece, Romania and the UK. (You can read the ECDC’s July measles report here.)

Because it is so easy to spread the disease and because the vaccination works so well, all travellers are urged to make sure they are up to date on their vaccination. Airports, festivals, conferences are all potential contagion zones – anywhere where there is a large number of people and someone is coughing or sneezing.

The NHS says initial symptoms can include

  • a runny or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • watery eyes
  • swollen eyelids
  • sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
  • a high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C (104F)
  • small greyish-white spots in the mouth (see below)
  • aches and pains
  • cough
  • loss of appetite
  • tiredness, irritability and a general lack of energy

Around 30% of cases result in complications that include –

  • diarrhoea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration
  • middle ear infection (otitis media), which can cause earache
  • eye infection (conjunctivitis)
  • inflammation of the voice box (laryngitis)
  • pneumonia, bronchitis and croup – infections of the airways and lungs
  • fits caused by a fever (febrile seizures)

The NHS stats that ‘about 1 in every 15 children with measles will develop complications like these.’ There are other, less common, complications which you can read about here.

If you are travelling in Europe this summer or you are currently in any of the twenty countries experiencing a measles outbreak, we strongly recommend you talk to your doctor about your vaccination status.

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