The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Measles in Europe

Updated November 22, 2018

Updated: November 21, 2018

The list of countries was updated to include Kosovo, Malta and Moldova.
The list of countries was updated to remove Iceland.
Original publication date: August 16, 2017

Current situation
European countries reporting over 5,000 cases in 2018 are:

Cases of measles in 2018 have also been reported in: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

About measles
Measles is a highly contagious disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Early symptoms of measles include small, white spots inside the mouth and throat. After three to seven days, a red blotchy rash develops on the face and spreads down the body. Measles can be contagious from four days before until four day after after the rash appears.

Measles is one of the leading causes of death in young children. Measles circulates in most regions of the world including Africa, Asia and Europe.

In Canada, reported cases of measles originate from travellers. Once measles arrives in Canada with an infected traveller, it can be spread to groups of people that are not vaccinated and cause an outbreak.

Travellers are at an increased risk of measles infection if they:

have not had measles, or
have not received the age appropriate recommended doses of the measles vaccine, including currently recommended booster doses
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic six weeks before you travel.

Get vaccinated for measles

Measles can be easily prevented with a vaccine. In Canada, the measles vaccine is part of our routine immunization schedule. Travellers should make sure their measles vaccination is up-to-date, regardless of their travel destination:

Infants (6 months to 12 months of age):
The vaccine is routinely given between 12 and 15 months. During outbreaks or if you are travelling to regions where measles is a concern, it may be given as early as six months of age. If this is the case, the routine two dose series must be restarted on or after the first birthday. A total of three doses are given.
Children/adolescents (12 months to 17 years of age):
Two doses of the vaccine are recommended. The first dose should be given between 12-15 months of age. The second dose should be given at 18 months of age or any time thereafter (typically before school entry).
Adults (18 years of age and older):
Travellers born in or after 1970 should make sure that they have received two doses of the vaccine.
Travellers born before 1970 should receive one dose of the measles vaccine if they do not have one of the following:
documented evidence of receiving a vaccine on or after their first birthday
laboratory evidence of immunity (e.g. through blood testing)
a history of laboratory confirmed measles disease
Wash your hands frequently

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Keep a bottle with you when you travel.
Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:

Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs.
Dispose of tissues as soon as possible after use, and wash your hands.
Monitor your health

See a healthcare professional if you develop symptoms of measles when travelling or after you return to Canada:
Alert the health care professional about your symptoms before your appointment, so they can take proper precautions.
Tell the health care professional which countries you have visited.
Avoid close contact with other people to reduce the chance of infecting others if you:
have symptoms of measles
have been exposed to someone who has measles.
If you notice symptoms of measles during the flight, tell the flight attendant before you land or the border services officer as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess your symptoms.
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home .

Related links
About measles
Sickness or injury when travelling
If you get sick after travelling
Travel vaccinations
Other Resources
Public Health Agency of Canada: Canadian Immunization Guide
World Health Organization – Measles fact sheet
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control – Epidemiological updates on measles outbreaks in Europe

Date modified: 2017-04-05