Measles Confirmed in Overseas Traveler

June 20, 2019

ATLANTA - The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed a case of measles in an unvaccinated metro Atlanta resident who recently traveled overseas. DPH is notifying individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and may be at increased risk for developing measles. This is the seventh confirmed case of measles in Georgia in 2019.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning earlier this month for travelers headed to Europe this summer. Like the U.S., Europe is dealing with its biggest measles outbreak since the 1990s. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated.  

“Anyone planning international travel should be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before leaving,” said Cherie Drenzek, DVM., MS, chief science officer and state epidemiologist, Georgia Department of Public Health. “Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person who have not been vaccinated or are not immune will also become infected.”

The MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine is safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93 percent effective.

Measles spreads when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes and respiratory droplets travel through the air. Measles virus can live in the air and on surfaces for two to three hours. 

Symptoms of measles include:

  • Fever (can be very high)
  • Cough, runny nose and red eyes
  • Tiny white spots on the inner lining of the cheek – also called Koplik’s spots
  • Rash of tiny, red spots that start at the head and spreads to the rest of the body (spots may become joined together as they spread)

Physicians should consider measles in patients presenting with fever and rash, especially in individuals who have recently traveled internationally or have close contacts who have recently traveled.

For more information about vaccination travel recommendations, log on to https://www.cdc.gov/measles/plan-for-travel.html.