Health officials warn of exposure to measles virus when traveling this summer

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – There are more than 1,000 confirmed cases of measles in the United States.

A majority of the cases are in New York, but officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said they have done dozens of air contact investigations for measles.

Travelers at the Memphis International Airport said they weren’t too worried because they were vaccinated, and there haven’t been any confirmed cases in Memphis.

However, there are more than 50 direct flights between New York and Memphis every week, so those travelers said they will be more aware.


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In June 2018, more than 414,000 people traveled through the Memphis airport, which is a good indication of what this summer could be like.

This year, health officials are reminding travelers to be on high alert as the measles outbreak continues to grow.

“It’s a scary thought and it just shows that it’s spreading so fast that people aren’t taking the proper precautions to stop it from spreading. So, we just have to remember all the hand washing and keep the hand sanitizers,” said Toi Page, a traveler.

Health officials said more than 1,500 people were exposed to the measles virus while traveling. The CDC said once you are infected with measles, it only takes seven to 14 days to start showing symptoms.

“I think it’s a dangerous situation and it needs to be fixed, and they need to be concerned about people,” said Nancy Rush, another traveler.

American Airlines, Delta and United all offer direct flights from Memphis to New York City. 

The Shelby County Health Department said if you plan to travel this summer, double check your vaccination status.


Here are some additional Travel Vaccinations tips from Dr. Alisa Haushalter, Shelby County Health Department Director:

  • If you plan to travel this summer, it is recommended that you check with your health care provider to determine your vaccination status and determine what vaccines you may require based upon where you will be traveling.
  • Some parts of Europe, Asia, the Asia-Pacific Region, and Africa, and even New York City are experiencing outbreaks of the measles. If you are planning to travel to any of those regions, ask your health care provider if anyone in your family needs a measles (MMR) vaccine.
  • Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be spread through coughing. Even traveling on an airplane with other international travelers could put you at risk of catching the disease. Vaccination is the best protection against the measles.
  • Another vaccination frequently recommended for many travelers is the hepatitis A vaccine. Hepatitis A is a highly infectious disease that is usually spread through contaminated food and water or by close contact with an infected person. Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for anyone who is traveling to Mexico, the Caribbean region, Central and South America, India, and many other nations. If you are not sure whether or not you have been vaccinated against hepatitis A, ask your health care provider.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website that lists the recommended vaccinations for those preparing to travel to any nation in the world here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.
  • Even if you are not planning to travel this summer, it is a good idea to check the vaccination status for yourself, your family members, and particularly your children. Ask your health care provider what vaccinations your child will need for school entry in the fall. Getting those vaccinations now will let you beat the rush and make sure your child is protected at the start of the school year. 



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