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How Can Travelers Prevent Measles in the Philippines

According to the World Health Organization as of January 20, 2015, there were 58,010 suspected cases of measles, including 21,420 confirmed cases and 110 deaths in the Philippines during 2014. In the United States during 2014, 25 US travelers who returned from the Philippines became sick with measles. Most of these cases were among unvaccinated people. The World Health Organization and the Philippines Department of Health are working to control the outbreak, including conducting vaccination campaigns.

Mount Malinao, Philippines

CDC recommends that travelers to the Philippines protect themselves by making sure they are vaccinated against measles, particularly infants 6–11 months of age (1 dose of measles vaccine) and children 12 months of age or older (2 doses of measles vaccine). Clinicians should keep measles in mind when treating patients with fever and rash, especially if the patient has recently traveled internationally.

What can travelers do to protect themselves?

1. Get measles vaccine*:

  • People who cannot show that they were vaccinated as children and who have never had measles should be vaccinated.

  • Infants 6–11 months of age should have 1 dose of measles vaccine if traveling internationally.

    • Children in the United States routinely receive measles vaccination at 12–15 months of age.

    • Infants vaccinated before age 12 months should be revaccinated on or after the first birthday with 2 doses, separated by at least 28 days.

  • Children 12 months of age or older should have 2 doses, separated by at least 28 days.

  • Adolescents and adults who have not had measles or have not been vaccinated should get 2 doses, separated by at least 28 days.

  • Two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is nearly 100% effective at preventing measles.

  • The only measles vaccines available in the United States are the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccines. MMR has been used safely and effectively since the 1970s. A few people experience mild, temporary adverse reactions, such as joint pain, from the vaccine, but serious side effects are extremely rare. There is no link between MMR and autism.

*Updated vaccine recommendations are available in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

2. Practice hygiene and cleanliness:

  • Wash your hands often.

  • If soap and water aren’t available, clean your hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).

  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

  • Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups, with people who are sick.

If you feel sick and think you may have measles:

  • Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.

  • Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.

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