23 Jun 2015

Measles vaccination: Chile

Measles Vaccination (Recommendations for Travel to the American Cup [Copa América]): Chile

The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization advises travellers to the 2015 American Cup football tournament, which takes place in Chile between June 11th and July 14th 2015, to ensure they are protected against vaccine preventable diseases and are up to date with recommended immunisations, particularly measles and rubella [1].

It is anticipated that a large number of international travellers will attend the Americas Cup. Highlighting the importance of measles, mumps and rubella vaccination for travellers, particularly those attending mass events, is an important public health measure which aims to reduce the risk of imported disease and spread of infection [1].

These recommendations are not mandatory and unvaccinated travellers should not be prohibited from entering Chile; however, border officials will be on high alert for suspected cases of measles [2].

Since 2002 Chile has largely eliminated indigenous transmission of measles and rubella due to routine and catch-up vaccination programmes. However imported cases (associated with travel overseas) do occur and lead to outbreaks [3]. In May 2015, a case of measles in a traveller who had returned from China to Chile resulted in an outbreak of measles in Metropolitan Region, Santiago [4].

Information on a number of global outbreaks of measles can be found on the Outbreak Surveillance Database.  A recent News on measles and travel is available.

About measles

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness spread by airborne or droplet transmission. Initial symptoms can include fever, runny nose, conjunctivitis and cough. A rash usually appears a few days later that starts at the head and spreads to the trunk and limbs over three to four days. Individuals are infectious from the time when the first symptom appears to four days after the appearance of the rash. The incubation period is about ten days (ranging between seven and 18 days). Complications of measles infection can occur and in the UK, death occurs in approximately one in 5,000 cases. The risk of death from measles infection is age-related; it is high in children under one year of age, lower in children aged one to nine years and rises again in teenagers and adults [5].

Countries experiencing or recovering from a conflict or natural disaster are particularly prone to outbreaks of measles. Damage to health infrastructure and health services can interrupt routine immunisation schedules and overcrowding in residential camps greatly increases the risk of infection [6].

Advice for travellers

As part of your preparation for overseas travel, you should ensure you are up-to-date with all vaccines, according to current UK recommendations. Two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine are required for a person to be considered fully vaccinated.

Measles and rubella containing vaccine can be given from six months of age in some circumstances, e.g. before travel to an endemic country and/or where an outbreak is occurring.

If you have never had measles infection or you are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated, you may be at risk from measles when visiting countries reporting cases, especially if staying with friends or family, mixing with the local population or attending mass events.

You may wish to consider carrying a record documenting vaccination against measles and rubella, when travelling internationally.

Advice for health professionals

Guidance on measles vaccination is available in Immunisation against infectious disease Chapter 21.

Advice on immunisation against measles is also available for those whose immunisation status is uncertain.

In the UK, measles is a notifiable disease. Any case of suspected measles should be notified to the local Health Protection Team.


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