Global Measles Notice
Level 1 - Practise health precautions (more details)
Original publication date: July 23, 2019
Updated: August 31, 2023
- Measles outbreaks are occurring in every region of the world.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries may have delayed measles vaccination campaigns. This increases the risk of bigger outbreaks occurring around the world.
- Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
- Most measles outbreaks in Canada are the result of returning travellers who were infected abroad.
- Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional at least 6 weeks before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Measles is a highly contagious disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Initial symptoms include:
- runny nose
- small, white spots inside the mouth and throat redeyes
- irritability (feeling cranky or in a bad mood)
About 3 to 7 days after symptoms begin, a red blotchy rash develops on the face and spreads down the body. The rash can last 4-7 days. Measles can be contagious from 4 days before until 4 days after the rash appears.
While measles spreads routinely in many parts of the world, it does not naturally circulate in Canada. However, cases have been reported in travellers to Canada from countries where measles is a concern. An infected traveller can spread measles to groups of people who are not vaccinated in Canada and cause an outbreak or can infect those who are most vulnerable and unable to be vaccinated (e.g. young infants and immunocompromised people).
Travellers are at an increased risk of measles infection if they:
- have not had measles, or
- have not received the age-appropriate recommended doses of the measles vaccine
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.
Get vaccinated for measles
Protection against measles is especially important for people planning travel. In Canada, the measles vaccine is part of our routine immunization schedule; however, you may require an additional dose before travelling outside of Canada. The following is recommended when travelling outside of Canada:
- Travellers born BEFORE 1970:
- should make sure that they have received 1 dose of the vaccine; or
- have laboratory evidence of immunity (e.g. through blood testing); or
- are considered immune due to a history of laboratory-confirmed measles disease
- Travellers born in 1970 or AFTER (12 months or older):
- should make sure that they have received 2 doses of the measles vaccine.
- Travelling infants (6 months to 12 months of age):
- if you are travelling with an infant to regions where measles is a concern, the vaccine may be given as early as 6 months of age. If this is the case, the routine 2-dose series must be restarted on or after the first birthday. A total of 3 doses are given.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Keep a bottle with you when you travel.
Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette
- Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs.
- Dispose of tissues as soon as possible after use, and wash your hands.
Monitor your health
- See a health care professional if you develop symptoms of measles when travelling or after you return to Canada:
- Alert the health care professional about your symptoms before your appointment, so they can take proper precautions.
- Tell the health care professional which countries you have visited.
- Avoid close contact with other people to reduce the chance of infecting others if you:
- have symptoms of measles
- have been exposed to someone who has measles
- If you notice symptoms of measles during the flight, tell the flight attendant before you land or the border services officer as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess your symptoms.
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.
- CDC - Global Measles Outbreaks
- CDC - Measles Cases and Outbreaks
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: Epidemiological updates on measles outbreaks in Europe
- World Health Organisation: Measles fact sheet
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control - Monthly measles and rubella monitoring reports
- Date modified: