An ongoing measles outbreak has been reported in Greece. According to media reports, 922 suspected cases of measles have been reported so far, although authorities warn that cases might increase in the coming weeks. Of the 922 cases, 538 were confirmed as of January 1, and two deaths have so far been reported. The most affected area is southern Greece.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a measles travel watch for the country on Wednesday, December 20, and urged anyone traveling to Greece to ensure that they have been vaccinated against measles to avoid further spread of the disease.
In addition to issuing a measles travel watch for Greece, the CDC issued a measles watch for several other European countries in 2017, including Italy, Romania, Ukraine, and, most recently, the UK.
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 Greece 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.