International SOS offers advice in South East Asia after sharp rise in measles cases

15 May 2014 ,  —

Singapore


International SOS is advising client organisations in South East Asia after a significant rise in cases of measles has been recorded throughout the region.


Since the beginning of 2014, more than 3,700 cases of measles, including at least 65 deaths, have been reported across the Philippines and it is estimated that the true number may be as high as 20,000.

Vietnam has recorded more than 3,000 confirmed cases, with over 100 fatalities and approximately 8,500 suspected cases .  A significant rise in cases has also been reported in Singapore.

Dozens of travellers to the Philippines have been diagnosed with measles on their return home to Australia, Japan, the US, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. Many of these cases were among unvaccinated children under two years of age. 

Dr. David Teo, Regional Medical Director at International SOS said:

“Measles is a highly contagious virus that can cause serious complications and fatalities. Measles is effectively prevented by vaccination.  The virus spreads via the airborne route, as well as through direct contact. In addition, people with measles are infectious for four days before and after they have a rash. 

For these reasons, very large outbreaks occur in communities with low vaccination rates, as we are witnessing in parts of South East Asia.  Every traveller should ensure they are immune to measles, regardless of their destination. Organisations should have a plan for how to respond if measles is diagnosed in an employee.” 

Medical advice for travellers and expatriate families:

• Ensure you are vaccinated against measles before travelling, regardless of your destination.
• People are immune if they've had the disease before or if they had an adequate series of measles vaccinations (often given as measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR).
• Check your vaccination records. Measles vaccines require two doses, usually given once to a young child and again before entering school.
• If you are unsure about your immunity, talk to your doctor.
International SOS members are encouraged to contact one of the 27 International SOS Assistance Centres if they have any concerns. Regularly updated information can be accessed online or on the Assistance App for members which can be downloaded here. 

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Notes to Editors

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