Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world. The virus can linger in the air for up to two hours after an infected person has sneezed or coughed, transmitting through water droplets and spreading incredibly fast. Although airports normally incite colds and the uncomfortable symptoms associated with the spread of bacteria, the measles virus poses a significant threat for those traveling this summer.
As one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country, Florida is particularly at risk for measles outbreaks. Although only two cases have been reported in the Sunshine State — both of which were a result of international travel –, the increased traffic due to the summer season could definitely impact visiting tourists; both involved residents who were unvaccinated and acquired measles during international travel to Southeast Asia.
Because this disease can spread so quickly, Florida health officials have identified 311 people who experienced possible exposure to the measles cases during their investigation into the original cases. The CDC is urging anyone who travels to make sure they’re up-to-date on their vaccinations, in addition to washing their hands frequently and ensuring they stay home if they’re sick. In fact, the government agency has issued a travel watch due to outbreaks in:
With the prevalence in the U.S., however, you can never be too safe. America officially eradicated measles within its borders in the year 2000, and is estimated to have saved approximately 17.1 million people worldwide as a result. That being said, the U.S. has already tallied a staggering 981 measles cases in 26 states — 41 of which occurred in the last week.
Because 90% of those unvaccinated individuals who come into contact with the disease will end up contracting it themselves, precautionary methods are more important than ever. If you’re an adult who has not received their vaccinations, or are traveling with unvaccinated children, the danger simply isn’t worth the risk; get your inoculations, or stay home.