S Korean travellers urged to get measles vaccine

S Korean travellers urged to get measles vaccine

With measles outbreaks being reported in parts of the US and other regions across the world, health officials in South Korea recommended overseas travelers make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

According to the nation's Health Ministry, more than 95 per cent of measles patients in Korea last year were infected during an overseas trips, or by those who had travelled abroad.

The number of measles patients in Korea quadrupled from 107 in 2013 to 442 last year. Many were infected in China or the Philippines.

According to last year's WHO data, Asia has the most suspected measles cases, with China on top, followed by the Philippines and Vietnam.

Over 100,000 measles cases were reported in China and the Philippines alone last year, with the latter's immunization programme interrupted by Typhoon Haiyan.

The spread of the virus has accelerated due to mass migration in the island country, with almost 4 million people displaced by the natural disaster.

Measles outbreaks have been recently reported in North America this year after people were infected at Disneyland in California.

"Measles cases are still being reported occasionally in China and the Philippines, and those who are unvaccinated have a 90 per cent chance of catching the disease once exposed to the virus," the Health Ministry said in a statement.

"We encourage everyone who plans to go abroad to get their vaccinations before leaving the country."

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that spreads through the air by sneezing or coughing. Symptoms include runny nose, coughing, red eyes and fever along with a rash of red dots that can cover one's entire body.

In 2013, more than 145,000 died from measles worldwide. According to the WHO, more than 95 per cent of measles deaths occur in nations with low per capita incomes and poor health care systems.

Those who have had measles in the past, as well as those who received the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine are considered to be immune to the disease.

Those who have never had measles and never received a vaccine are encouraged to get vaccinated, said South Korea's Health Ministry.

 

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