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Health: Sharp Rise in Measles Cases Reported in Southeast Asia

Travel Advisory

A sharp increase in the number of measles cases has been reported in Southeast Asia, including at last 65 deaths, International SOS has reported. The infection rate in the Philippines could be as high as 20,000.


Young woman receiving a vaccination in the shoulder. Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

International SOS reports that more than 3,700 cases of the measles, including 65 deaths, have been reported in Southeast Asia, but the true figure could be much, much higher.

Dozens of travelers to the Philippines have been diagnosed with measles on their return home to Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States. Many of these cases were among unvaccinated children under the age of 2.

There have also been sharp increases in the number of cases in Singapore and Vietnam.

Should travelers be concerned?

“Measles is a highly contagious virus that can cause serious complications and fatalities,” says Dr. Ahmed Fahmy, Medical Director at International SOS.

“Measles is effectively prevented by vaccination.  The virus spreads via the airborne route, as well as through direct contact. In addition, people with measles are infectious for four days before and after they have a rash.” 

Travelers are advised that they should be vaccinated unless they know that they are immune to the disease. When in doubt, they should consult their physician.