Europe continues to experience outbreaks of measles and hepatitis A
August 16, 2017 — The Health Department is reminding travelers to be vaccinated before taking a trip to Europe. New Yorkers should speak with their medical provider prior to international travel to ensure that they are up-to-date with all vaccinations — including routine vaccinations like the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) combination vaccine. Several European nations are experiencing outbreaks of measles and hepatitis A. Since January 2016, 15 countries in Europe identified a total of over 14,000 measles cases and 35 deaths. Last year, the United States reported 70 cases of measles. Most cases of the measles in the United States are acquired during international travel. Additionally, several countries in Europe are reporting multiple hepatitis A outbreaks, mostly among men who have sex with men (MSM). Sixteen countries in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) have reported over 1,000 cases over the past year in three distinct outbreaks. The United States reported a similar figure in 2015, with a total of 1,390 cases. Learn more here (PDF) in the Health Department’s “Safe and Healthy Travel” brochure.
“Right now, Europe is experiencing outbreaks of hepatitis A and measles. These diseases are preventable, and vaccinations are easily accessible throughout the city,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “It is important to be up-to-date with vaccinations before traveling — especially when going abroad — to keep yourself and your fellow New Yorkers healthy.”
“Traveling, either for a business or pleasure, is meant to be an enriching experience. However, we cannot forget that safety is key. We are a city of over 8 million people, and keeping ourselves safe translates to the communities we live in. We encourage everyone to follow the recommendations of the health department and get vaccinated before traveling overseas,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“I commend the efforts of the New York City Department of Health for reminding New Yorkers about the importance of getting vaccinated, especially if they are planning to travel to one of the sixteen European countries currently affected by outbreaks of measles and Hepatitis A," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I join them in urging potential travelers to consult with their health care providers in a timely manner in order make the appropriate arrangements to protect their health and that of their fellow New Yorkers.”
“The NYC Health Department alert about outbreaks of measles and hepatitis A in Europe is a timely and proactive reminder that New Yorkers should consult with health care providers before traveling abroad. Vaccines are highly effective to prevent catching diseases, and are widely available,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that causes high fever and rash all over the body. The virus is spread through coughing and sneezing by an infected person. Infection can be serious particularly among infants, pregnant women who are not immune to measles and persons with a weak immune system. In rare cases, measles can cause death. Measles vaccine is effective and safe. Children should receive their first dose at 12 months of age and their second dose between the ages of four and six. Infant’s ages six to 11 months should also receive a dose of MMR prior to international travel. This dose, however, will not count toward the routine series, and the child will need to be revaccinated when they turn 12 months of age. Adults born after January 1, 1957, who have not received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine or do not have a blood test confirming immunity to measles, should contact their health care provider. Adults who need assistance finding a provider can call 311. More information on measles can be found here.
Hepatitis A can be transmitted by food, water or sexually. Symptoms of hepatitis A can appear between two and seven weeks after exposure. Most people start experiencing symptoms about one month after exposure. Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea. More information on hepatitis A can be found here.
New Yorkers who have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A should consult with their health care provider. For MSM who do not have a health care provider or have difficulty accessing immunization services, the City’s Sexual Health Clinics offer free and affordable hepatitis A vaccines. Locations and hours can be found here.
For New Yorkers looking for MMR vaccinations prior to traveling abroad, directories of travel clinics in the United States are available here.
Medical providers who see patients with symptoms of reportable diseases should notify the Health Department at 1-866-692-3641.
MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez: (347) 396-4177