Travel warning issued following European measles outbreak

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A large measles outbreak in parts of Europe, including France, Italy, Germany and Bulgaria, has caused the Health Protection Agency to send letters to schools warning them to be cautious.

Currently, there have been 4,000 people who have been diagnosed with measles in France. The threat comes weeks before the Easter holidays, a time when traveling between countries is high. Last month, the National Travel Health Network and Centre issued advice stating that “overseas travel is an important factor in the international spread of measles.”

Spread via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons, measles is a highly contagious viral disease that mostly affects children. Vaccinations, however, can render one immune to the disease. The HPA letter encouraged families check to make sure they are up-to-date with their measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations prior to traveling.

Initial symptoms of measles usually include a high fever, a runny nose and a cough. Within seven to 18 days of exposure, a rash will can be expected to erupt all over the body. According to the World Health Organization, measles vaccination resulted in a 78 percent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2008 worldwide.

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