CDC warms of imported measles as US deals with cases

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CDC warms of imported measles as US deals with cases

CDC warns of imported measles as US deals with cases


Stay Alert for Measles Cases: CDC warms of imported measles as US deals with cases

As the United States braces for the upcoming spring travel season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sounding the alarm on imported measles cases, urging vigilance against the highly contagious airborne disease.

Amidst global efforts to combat outbreaks of the viral illness, the CDC has issued a cautionary advisory, highlighting the heightened risk of measles transmission as travel activity surges. According to a U.S. official speaking anonymously to Scripps News, instances of measles infections have been identified across all regions worldwide, prompting intensified monitoring by American health authorities.

The concern primarily revolves around the potential for “imported” cases, with the influx of travelers expected to populate airports, airplanes, trains, shopping malls, and other enclosed environments where measles can swiftly propagate. Measles, a disease preventable through routine childhood vaccinations, poses a significant threat in such settings due to its highly contagious nature.

In response to the escalating threat, global health organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF emphasize the critical role of vaccination in measles prevention. Efforts are underway to bolster funding for initiatives such as the Vaccine Alliance, aimed at ensuring equitable access to vaccines in underserved regions worldwide.

The resurgence of measles, a once-eradicated disease, is attributed in part to disruptions in vaccination schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO warns that over half of the world is now at risk of measles outbreaks, with Europe experiencing a staggering 30-fold increase in cases.

In a statement provided to Scripps News, the CDC underscored the urgency of vaccination, especially in light of impending spring break travel. Individuals who have not received the full measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine series are advised to ensure their vaccinations are up to date at least two weeks prior to travel.

As of February 22, the CDC reports a total of 35 measles cases across 15 U.S. jurisdictions, spanning states including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.


Measles outbreak prevention strategies

Preventing measles begins with community-wide vaccination efforts, recognized as the most potent defense against the disease. Ensuring all children receive the measles vaccine is paramount. This vaccine, deemed safe, effective, and affordable, stands as a cornerstone in safeguarding individuals and communities against the threat of measles.

CDC warning on imported measles cases during spring season

As travel activity surges, the CDC expresses heightened concern over the potential for ‘imported’ cases of measles. With increasing numbers of travelers expected to frequent airports, planes, trains, shopping malls, and other enclosed spaces, the risk of transmission for this highly contagious airborne disease escalates. Vigilance and proactive measures are crucial to mitigate the spread of measles within these bustling environments.

Impact of COVID-19 on measles

The ripple effects of COVID-19 disruptions are felt far beyond the pandemic itself, as evidenced by the impact on routine vaccination coverage. The reduced immunization rates in 2020, coupled with the absence of catch-up vaccination initiatives, spell potential trouble for measles and yellow fever control in modelled countries. Addressing this concerning trend is paramount to prevent a resurgence of these preventable diseases and safeguard public health.

Measles transmission risk in enclosed travel environments

Understanding the environmental factors influencing measles transmission is crucial in devising effective prevention strategies. Temperature and relative humidity play key roles in the virulence and survival of the measles virus in the air. Studies have shown that the virus is temperature-sensitive, with slightly better survival rates observed at lower temperatures. Measles virus remains active and contagious in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours, making it highly infectious. This means that one person infected with measles can potentially spread the virus to nine out of 10 of their unvaccinated close contacts. Furthermore, the virus can linger in airspace for up to two hours after an infected individual leaves, underscoring the importance of timely intervention and preventive measures to mitigate transmission risks.”

Importance of MMR vaccination before international travel

“Planning a trip within the next two weeks? Don’t let the risk of measles derail your travel plans. Even if you’re not currently vaccinated against measles, it’s not too late to safeguard yourself. Consider getting a dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which provides protection against all three diseases. With two doses, you can enjoy 97% protection against measles, while even a single dose offers 93% protection. Prioritize your health and peace of mind by taking this simple yet effective precaution before embarking on your journey.”

Global efforts to combat measles

In a concerted effort to combat measles on a global scale, authorities are implementing comprehensive action plans aimed at reversing the decline in national vaccination coverage. With a shared vision of creating a world free from the burden of preventable diseases, health authorities are mobilizing vaccination campaigns at the national level. Encouraging parents to prioritize their children’s health, these initiatives underscore the importance of booking vaccine appointments to ensure widespread protection against measles and other infectious threats.


With measles outbreaks posing a significant public health threat both domestically and globally, heightened awareness, vaccination, and proactive measures are crucial in curbing the spread of this resurgent infectious disease. As travelers gear up for spring journeys, staying informed and vaccinated remains paramount in safeguarding individual and community health against measles and its potentially severe consequences.

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