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State warns travelers to be on alert for measles

Travelers should be on alert for measles as outbreaks around the globe continue to increase, warned the state Department of Health on Tuesday.

This year, there were four reported cases of travel-related measles in Hawaii, including three visitors and one resident, the DOH said. In 2018, there were no reported cases in the state.

An advisory was sent to physicians in November, and health care providers are reminded to be vigilant.

Measles is highly contagious and can be serious. It is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those most at risk of catching measles are unvaccinated individuals.

Possible serious complications include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain and death.

The risk of complications is highest in children younger than 1 year old, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system.

Current outbreaks in areas around the Pacific and on the mainland are a concern because Hawaii is a cornerstone for travel, said state Health Director Bruce Anderson, adding “vaccination is the best defense against these life-threatening diseases.”

Before international travel, infants ages 6-11 months should receive one dose of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

Children age 1 and older, as well as teenagers and adults without evidence of immunity, should receive two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.

Symptoms of measles usually start about 14 days after exposure and can include high fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes and rash.

People who suspect they have measles should call their health care provider right away and isolate themselves from others to help contain the spread of illness.

For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, visit health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/.

For more information about measles, visit health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/measles/.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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