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Measles in Africa – Clock – Level 1, Practice the usual precautions – Health warnings during travel | Health of travelers


As the situation of COVID-19 changes around the world, CDC monitors the risk of COVID-19 in each country and makes travel recommendations. If you are thinking of international travel, see the CDC COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

Key points

  • Measles is a risk in many parts of the world, including Africa.
  • Some African countries report an increasing number of cases (outbreaks) of measles.
  • All travelers to Africa, including infants and preschoolers, should be fully vaccinated against measles, according to CDC vaccination schedules.
Map of measles in Africa

Map: African countries with reported measles outbreaks (see larger map)

Caused by a highly contagious virus, the measles spreads from person to person by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Signs and symptoms of measles include rash, high fever and cough, runny nose, or red, watery eyes. People can spread measles up to 4 days before and 4 days after having a rash. Measles can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs), and even death..

What is the current situation?

Measles is a permanent risk worldwide. In Africa, health officials in the countries listed below have reported measles outbreaks, meaning the number of measles cases is higher than normal. All travelers to Africa, including infants and preschoolers, should be fully protected from measles, especially when going there.

  • Angola
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Guinea
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Mali
  • Mozambique
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • South Sudan

Keep it to a minimum that destinations reporting measles outbreaks are not the only places where infection is a risk. Locations where measles is common can have many cases, but they cannot be considered to have an outbreak. Measles can also be spread to airports, public transport and tourist attractions. Therefore, it is crucial that travelers are protected from measles, regardless of destination.

What can travelers do to protect themselves and others from measles?

Make sure you and your traveling companions (infants 6 months or older, children and adults) are fully protected from measles before any trip abroad.

Vaccination with a vaccine that contains measles is the best way to make sure it is protected. There are two measles-containing vaccines available in the United States: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) for people over 6 months of age, and measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox (MMRV) vaccine. for children from 1 to 12 years. If you are 12 months or older, you need two doses of measles vaccine to be fully protected. Infants 6 to 11 months of age should receive a dose of vaccine, although this dose does not count as the first dose in the series of routine childhood vaccinations. You are also protected if you have laboratory confirmation of a past measles infection or if you were born before 1957.

If you’re not sure if you or your fellow travelers are fully protected from measles, schedule an appointment to see your healthcare provider at least a month before you travel so you have enough time to get vaccinated.

Some people should not receive a measles vaccine or should wait. If you do not think you can safely receive a vaccine that contains measles, talk to your doctor and consider making alternative travel plans.

What can doctors do?

A self-report of a history of vaccination or illness is not adequate proof of protection. Vaccinate any traveler 6 months or older who goes abroad who does not have written documentation about vaccination or other presumed evidence of immunity to measles.

Provide measles vaccine to overseas travelers according to CDC recommendations:

  1. Children (6 to 11 months). Administer a dose of measles and mumps (MMR) vaccine. This dose does not count as the first dose in the routine childhood vaccination series.
  2. People 12 months or older with no other presumed evidence of immunity to measles. Give two properly spaced doses of vaccine containing measles. For MMR, this means administering the second dose at least 28 days after the first. For MMRV, this means administering the second dose at least 3 months after the first.
  3. People 13 months or older who have written documentation of a dose and no other presumed evidence of immunity to measles. Administer an additional dose of measles vaccine before the trip.

Think of measles when evaluating patients with fever and rashes, especially those who have recently traveled abroad or who have close contacts who have recently traveled.

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