Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Are you heading to the Olympics this summer? Add one more thing to your packing list

Did you know that it’s National Public Health Week? There’s a different theme every day, and today’s theme is communicable diseases. We thought this would be a great time to talk to travelers headed to the upcoming Olympic Games in London about protecting yourself from infectious diseases.

What do sporting events and international travel have to do with infectious diseases? Plenty, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last month, CDC asked travelers to help prevent a major measles outbreak in the U.S. by making sure their vaccines are up to date before they travel to the Olympics or any other major sporting event this summer.

CDC is worried because measles is more widespread in Europe. Officials believe that if Americans who aren’t vaccinated travel to the huge gatherings this summer, they could easily become infected and then bring measles back to the U.S., creating an outbreak here. “Disease knows no borders,” said Rebecca Martin director of CDC’s Global Immunization Division, in a recent USA Today article.
Image courtesy CDC/Judy Schmidt

This isn’t the first time that big sporting events caused concern about spreading disease. In February, two people with measles went to the Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis before Super Bowl XLVI. Fourteen people came down with measles afterwards — and only one of them was up to date on their MMR vaccination, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

The MMR vaccine is very effective, and it’s the best way to prevent you and your loved ones from getting the measles. The vaccine works best when two doses are given about a month apart. If you are traveling to Europe this summer for big gatherings such as the Olympic Games or the Euro 2012 soccer championship — or even if you’re going just for sightseeing — now is the time to get your shots!

CDC has information about the measles and the MMR vaccine and also general information about vaccines for travelers.

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