Measles, a disease that spreads quickly, kills hundreds of children in the world every day. The disease is infecting people in Europe, Asia and Africa. There is something you can do to protect you and your family – get vaccinated.
If you are traveling to another country, make sure that you and your children are up-to-date on your measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (called MMR). Children as young as 6 months old should receive the MMR vaccine.
It can be easy to think that measles will not affect you and your family, but one Minnesota mother found out how dangerous it can be while traveling. Before traveling, the doctor recommended that her son get his MMR vaccine earlier than usual because they were traveling to visit family in Kenya. She wanted her son to get the vaccine, but he was finally sleeping. She decided it could wait until they came back. They were just going to visit family which didn’t seem like a big risk.
The day they returned home, her son developed a cough, runny nose, and watery, red eyes. Then he got a fever and became very tired. She took him to the doctor, and they said it was a virus and to watch him closely. The cough got worse and the fever got higher so she took him to the doctor again. This time they put him in the hospital because he had pneumonia. The doctors did more tests and put him in a private room – he had measles.
It was hard for her child to breathe so they put him on a breathing machine. There were tubes in his mouth, nose and arms. She felt helpless. The doctors warned that her son might die. For three weeks she watched a machine breath for her son.
The little boy survived, but his mother will never forget his suffering. The disease also spread to other people on the airplane and among family members that were not vaccinated. She tells anyone traveling overseas to places like Asia, Africa or Europe, “Be sure to get all the vaccines you or your family needs.”
To keep your travels healthy, talk to your clinic or doctor about your trip. Your doctor can tell you about the shots you and your family need and ways to stay healthy while traveling. Set up the appointment at the same time that you buy your plane tickets, it gives you enough time to get all the needed vaccines.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/travel .