World Cup Football 2018 is currently going on in Russia. Millions of visitors from all over the world have already traveled to Russia. American soccer fans that are currently in Russia need to pay attention to a warning issued by public health officials about measles. The warning states that American citizens in Russia should make sure that they have had their measles vaccine.
Only twelve months ago, there was a four-fold increase in measles cases in Europe compared to the previous year. The Centers for Disease Control not only wants to make sure that Americans traveling to that region are protected while in Russia but they also want to ensure that these travelers don’t bring back the measles virus back home. That is why the CDC issued a warning before the World Cup started that all travelers should be updated with their routine vaccines.
The FIFA World Cup will run for about a month from June 14 to July 15. It is anticipated that close to 2.4 million tourists are already in Russia to see the matches. Many of these tourists have traveled from countries where measles vaccination is not routine. Also, there is a large anti-vaccination campaign going on all over the globe, which may lead to a resurgence of many deadly infections in people who are not vaccinated.
So the question is: is there a risk of acquiring measles from an infected tourist?
Experts from the CDC reveal that the risk of acquiring measles is very low. Measles has occurred in Europe before, and analysts reveal that the risk of importation of the infection into the US is very low.
The key reason for the periodic outbreaks of measles in Europe is because of the lack of routine vaccine programs for children in many European countries. Recently both Italy and France have passed legislation that would make these vaccines routine, but there still are many more susceptible adults and children living in those areas that have not been vaccinated.
In the USA, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is routine, but there have been instances of parents withholding vaccination in their children for fear of side effects.
An unvaccinated individual is at a higher risk of acquiring the measles virus when they travel to an area of the world where there are people with active measles infection. Measles is not a benign infection. Besides the upper respiratory tract symptoms of a cough, fever, stuffy nose and rash, it can cause pneumonia and middle ear infection. The virus can also infect the brain leading to measles encephalitis. Before the era of measles vaccine, at least 400 children died each year from measles-related complications.
Therefore, it is hoped that American citizens in Russia ensured that they were up to date on their vaccines. A single dose of vaccine provides close to 93% protection, and the measles vaccine is quite safe therefore there is no logic in putting yourself at risk.