Taiwan CDC urges travelers to areas affected by measles epidemic to determine need for vaccination

The man visited Thailand from March 1 to March 4, and began to develop symptoms, including fever and cough, on March 14, according to Taiwan CDC.

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(By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)--The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) on March 29 urged adult travelers planning to visit areas affected by measles epidemic to visit the outpatient travel clinic at contracted hospitals in the nation to determine the need for one dose of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine as the agency announced this year’s first imported measles case in an over 30-year-old male who resides in northern Taiwan.

The man visited Thailand from March 1 to March 4, and began to develop symptoms, including fever and cough, on March 14, according to Taiwan CDC. Infection with measles was later laboratory confirmed in the case, the agency said. Based on the case’s activity and exposure history during the incubation period, it is determined that the case acquired his infection in Thailand, the agency added.

To prevent further transmission of the disease, the local health authority has implemented a number of prevention measures and tracked down contacts. Currently, 106 contacts have not developed suspected symptoms, while other 63 contacts are being followed up, Taiwan CDC said.

According to the domestic surveillance data compiled by Taiwan CDC, thus far this year, a cumulative total of 1 measles case has been confirmed and it is imported from Thailand. During 2015 and 2017, a cumulative total of 49 measles cases were confirmed in Taiwan, including 30 indigenous cases and 19 imported cases. Specifically, 29 measles cases were confirmed in 2015, 14 were confirmed in 2016 and 6 were confirmed in 2017. The majority of the imported cases came from China (9) and the other came from neighboring countries in Asia.

According to the international epidemic surveillance data compiled by Taiwan CDC, the global measles epidemics have continued to occur. Among the neighboring countries, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, China, and Thailand have reported a higher number of cases and cases have continued to occur in these countries. On the other hand, in Europe, Greece, Ukraine and France have been hit the hardest by measles, while Romania, Italy, Serbia, the United Kingdom have all reported a higher number of cases compared to the previous years.

Currently, the agency has issued a travel notice of Level 1: Watch for measles to 17 countries, including the aforementioned countries, Kazakhstan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Measles is more common during late winter and spring. Taiwan CDC said that vaccination remains the best way to prevent infection. In Taiwan, the existing routine childhood vaccination schedule recommends a dose of MMR vaccine to children 12 months of age. Unvaccinated infants and children, those who do not receive vaccine in a timely manner and those who have never been infected with measles are high-risk groups, the agency said. Parents are urged to ensure timely vaccination of children under one year old and those who have not completed the MMR vaccine series should avoid bringing unvaccinated children to the affected areas in order to prevent infection, according to Taiwan CDC.

If travel to affected areas with children at the age of 6-12 months is unavoidable, adults should bring the children to the local health bureau or contracted healthcare provider for one dose of MMR vaccine 2 weeks prior to the trip, the agency said. Adult travelers planning to visit affected areas are also advised to visit the outpatient travel clinic at contracted hospitals in the nation to determine the need for one dose of MMR vaccine 2 to 4 weeks prior to their trip.