A measles outbreak is ongoing in Italy, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting 2020 confirmed cases so far in 2018. According to health officials, the outbreak has been in part caused by decreasing vaccination rates. On August 7, the Italian government announced that parents would no longer be required to show proof of a child's vaccination against measles before enrollment in kindergarten or preschool.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that typically affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of infected persons. The disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Symptoms of measles are usually a high fever, which begins approximately ten to 12 days after exposure to the virus and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days).
Individuals in or planning travel to Italy are advised to ensure their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations are up to date and to contact their doctor with any questions or concerns. Anyone experiencing the above symptoms is urged to seek immediate medical attention.
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