Measles Advice for Europe
Risk of Measles when travelling in Europe
In 2017, the number of measles cases reported in European countries has largely increased. The United Kingdom, Italy and Romania have recorded the largest outbreaks of the virus to date.
Other countries reporting an increase in measles cases this year include Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
The best way to protect yourself and your family from getting measles is to be vaccinated with the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine.
If you are a parent, you should not delay getting the MMR vaccination for your child when it is due. The first dose of the vaccine is due at 12 months of age, and the second dose at preschool age, 4-5 years of age.
The HPSC recommends that if you are travelling with an infant between 6-11 months of age to countries and regions where measles outbreaks are reported, you should arrange for the infant to receive the recommended MMR vaccine. If your child receives a dose before they are 12 months of age, you must ensure that they still receive the usual dose at 12 months of age. Receiving an early dose of the MMR vaccine does not replace the 12 months old dose.
Older children or young adults who are not vaccinated should speak with their GP about getting the vaccine.
What if I get measles while abroad?
If you or a family member is showing some of the following symptoms, this may indicate that they have developed measles:
- a runny or blocked nose, watery eyes, swollen eyelids and sneezing
- red eyes and sensitivity to light
- a mild to severe temperature or fever
- small greyish-white spots in the mouth and throat
- tiredness, irritability and general lack of energy
- aches and pains
- poor appetite
- dry cough
- red or brown spotty rash (this normally appears 2-4 days after the onset of the other symptoms).
If you or your child has been exposed to measles and you are not already immune, there is a high risk that you will develop measles. If you believe you or a family member has measles, you should visit your doctor, or a doctor in the country you're visiting.
If you or your child has measles, you will not be able to fly until at least five days after the rash has appeared and you are well enough to travel. You should inform your airline as soon as measles is diagnosed.
You should let your travel insurer know if you or your child have had measles or been exposed to measles. You need to make sure that the insurer will cover you if you have to delay or cancel your holiday, or if you need to extend your stay until your child is well enough to fly home.
For further information on the measles virus, please visit the HSE's website. You can also look for updates on the disease before you travel at http://www.hpsc.ie/ and http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/Pages/home.aspx.