Latest information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) risks
Public Health Scotland logo

Fit for Travel Logo

Information on how to stay safe and healthy abroad. About us.

Global risk of increase in measles

02 Dec 2021

Measles is a highly infectious disease spread through sneezing, coughing or direct contact with respiratory secretions. It causes a rash, high temperature (fever) and muscle aches and can have serious complications. Measles continues to be a leading cause of death among young children in some countries.

Measles virus remains widespread (endemic) in all part of the world but is most common in Asia, Africa and South America. Health services and national vaccination programmes around the world have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a risk of increasing numbers of measles outbreaks, including in developed countries such as Australia, USA, the UK and European countries.

Advice for Travellers

Travelling abroad may increase your risk of exposure to measles virus, meaning you could potentially become infected or spread the disease to people who are vulnerable if they were to become infected, such as babies, young children, or people with conditions that affect their immune system. Your risk of exposure may be higher if you will be visiting friends and relatives and/or mixing closely with the local population during your trip.

Two doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine are needed in your life time to fully protect you against all three viruses.

  • Check with your GP before travelling to ensure you have received two doses of MMR vaccination.
  • If you were previously infected with either measles, mumps or rubella illness, often as a child, this also provides you with lifelong immunity against that particular disease.

Children should be up to date with the UK Vaccination Schedule. This includes a dose of MMR vaccine at around 12-13 months, and a second dose before starting school, at around 3 years 4 months of age.

See the fitfortravel measles page for further information.