Measles in Europe
Updated: August 16, 2017
What is Measles?
Measles is a highly contagious disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Early symptoms of measles include small, white spots inside the mouth and throat. After 3 to 7 days, a red blotchy rash develops on the face and spreads down the body. Measles can be contagious from 4 days before and after the rash appears.
Measles can be easily prevented by a safe and cost-effective vaccine. In Canada, the measles vaccine is part of our routine vaccinations.
Where is measles a concern?
Measles is still circulating in many parts of the world, including Europe. The following European countries have reported cases of measles in 2017: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Information on global measles activity can be found here.
Why should you be concerned?
Measles is one of the leading causes of death in young children worldwide. You are at an increased risk of the measles infection if you have not had the illness, or have not received both of the two recommended doses of vaccine.
How can you protect yourself from measles?
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic six weeks before you travel.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Get vaccinated for measles
Travellers should make sure they have received two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) immunization, regardless of their travel destination.
- Infants (6 months to 12 months):
- The vaccine may be given as early as six months of age during outbreaks, or for travel to regions where measles is a concern. If this is the case, the routine two dose series must be restarted on or after the first birthday. A total of three doses are given.
- Children/adolescents (12 months to 17 years of age):
- Two doses of the vaccine are recommended. The first dose should be given at 12-15 months of age. The second dose should be given at 18 months of age or any time thereafter (typically before school entry).
- Adults (18 years of age and older):
- Travellers born in or after 1970 should make sure that they have received two doses of the vaccine.
- Travellers born before 1970 should receive one dose the measles vaccine if they do not have one of the following:
- documented evidence of receiving a vaccine on or after their first birthday;
- laboratory evidence of immunity (e.g. through blood testing); or
- a history of laboratory confirmed measles disease.
Wash your hands frequently
- 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 healthcare provider if you develop symptoms when travelling or after you return to Canada:
- Alert the health care provider about your symptoms before your appointment, so they can take proper precautions.
- Tell the health care provider 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 these symptoms 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 the symptoms.
- Date modified: