The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice Friday for the country of Serbia due to a measles outbreak. According to Serbia’s Institute for Public Health (computer translated), since Oct. 2017, 1,227 measles cases have been reported through Jan. 19.
Measles is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Measles virus is highly contagious and can remain so for up to 2 hours in the air or on surfaces. Symptoms of measles are rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes.
CDC recommends that travelers to Serbia protect themselves by making sure they are vaccinated against measles with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. Before departure from the United States, infants (6 through 11 months of age) should have 1 dose of MMR vaccine, and adults and children over 1 year of age should have 2 doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.
Clinicians should keep measles in mind when treating patients with fever and rash, especially if the patient has recently traveled internationally.
Serbian health officials say of the 1227 measles cases, 6115 were laboratory confirmed by the Torlak Institute.
Most ill persons (93%) are non-vaccinated, incomplete vaccinated or unknown vaccine status. In late December, Serbia reported the first measles death in 20 years.