Mexico spared measles outbreak, but travelers headed abroad are warned

Precautions set for travelers to Americas and Europe

Photo: Stock
Photo: Stock

Mexico City — Given the measles outbreak in Europe and the United States, Mexico’s Ministry of Health recommended travelers take preventive measures.

Mexico has so far been spared a measles outbreak and the health agency wants to keep it that way.

Before starting a trip abroad, citizens should verify their vaccination status, the ministry warns. If warranted, measles shots must be taken at least 14 days — and ideally 21 days — before the trip.

During the trip, travelers are advised to wash hands frequently, avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth and cover any coughs or sneezes.

In addition, the agency warns that it is essential that the traveler has the contact details of the nearest Mexican consulate or embassy for their support, if required.

The symptoms of measles are high fever, redness of the eyes, nasal congestion, cough, wheezing and small spots beginning on the face and neck and then spreading throughout the body. It is transmitted by direct contact with droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of an infected person.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that can spread through coughing and sneezing. The virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. Up to 90 percent of nonimmunized people close to an infected person will also become infected.

If the traveler is ill upon arrival in Mexico, it is essential to inform the airline’s staff before landing or the International Health Officer when leaving the plane.

In case of fever and hives during the return trip and after 21 days of being back in Mexico, do not self-medicate, health authorities advise. Seek medical attention immediately and avoid contact with other people, travelers are told.

Measles outbreaks in the United States are reported in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Across the Americas, Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Venezuela have reported measles since 2017.

The World Health Organization said it claimed 110,000 lives globally in 2017, a 30 percent increase in recent years.

A huge outbreak in Madagascar caused more than 115,000 illnesses and more than 1,200 deaths since September. Nearly 83,000 people contracted measles in Europe in 2018, the highest number in a decade.

Sources: El Universal, Agencies

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