Measles are making a comeback. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says travelers to countries with large recent outbreaks, including France, Britain, Spain, Switzerland, India and areas of Africa and Asia, have returned to the U.S. and brought cases of the highly contagious disease with them.
"Every traveler needs to make sure they are immune to measles," Dr. Phyllis Kozarsky, a consultant for the CDC's division of global migration and quarantine, said in an interview. To be clear, this situation involves plain old measles, not some new strain or superbug.
But here's a bit of good news: If you've already been properly vaccinated or had measles as a child, you have lifetime immunity, Kozarsky says. Those who don't recall whether they had measles or whether they were vaccinated can find out from a simple blood test.
The disease, which causes itchy rashes and high fevers, was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. In a recent health advisory the CDC said many of the 156 cases confirmed in the U.S. this year were acquired during international travel. California too has reported an alarming rise in the number of measles cases.