Long Islanders planning to visit Europe this summer and who have not been vaccinated for measles are advised to do so before traveling, according to health officials from Nassau University Medical Center.
Dr. Victor Politi, the center’s chief executive, pointed to related health notices issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, advising travelers to take special care, particularly those visiting France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Romania.
Described as “the most contagious of all diseases” by the CDC, measles spreads through coughs and sneezes, infecting an estimated nine out of 10 susceptible people who are exposed in close contact.
Since January 2016, more than 14,000 cases of measles have been reported in Europe, the CDC said, citing data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Thousands of parents across Europe have avoided vaccinating their children, due to fears of the vaccine’s safety.
Earlier this month the World Health Organization said measles has killed 35 children in Europe in the past 12 months, calling it an “unacceptable tragedy” that deaths are being caused by a vaccine-preventable disease.
Not all countries require childhood immunization for measles and other such diseases, as the United States does, Politi said.
“Most measles cases in the United States are contracted from abroad and brought back,” he said Thursday in a statement. “Our goal is to not only protect travelers from contracted infectious disease, but also protect the people back home once those travelers return.”
According to the CDC, measles “starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat,” followed by a rash that then spreads over the body.
In the United States, there were reports this year of 108 people from 11 states, New York included, coming down with measles, from January through mid-June, the CDC said.
Last year saw 70 cases, with 188 in 2015.
In 2014, the United States saw 667 cases, a record number since the elimination of measles was documented in 2000, the CDC said.
The state Department of Health advises those who are concerned about being susceptible to check with a doctor.
Those born before 1957 are likely to have been exposed and would be immune, health officials said. Those “born between 1957 and 1971 when vaccines weren’t as reliable” should check with a doctor.