Travelers, here’s how to stay measles-free in Japan and Taiwan
NATIONAL health organizations in Taiwan and Japan are on high alert as nearly 100 cases of measles have been reported in recent weeks.
More than 3,500 people in the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung have been quarantined and a further 980 people are being monitored just outside of Taipei in Taoyuan city.
Only 22 cases have been confirmed so far, but this figure is predicted to rise significantly.
Despite Japan being declared a measles-free zone by the World Health Organization in 2015, there have been 67 reported cases of people testing positive for the highly contagious virus in Okinawa over the weekend.
But how does a virus often associated with the Dickensian era suddenly spring up across two nations with first-class healthcare systems?
In this instance, the outbreak has been traced back to a 30-year-old Tigerair Taiwan male flight attendant.
He reportedly contracted it in early March while in Thailand but he wasn’t diagnosed until March 29.
But by this point, two fellow colleagues had caught it on a flight to Okinawa. Despite displaying symptoms, these two-cabin crew members continued working until their diagnosis in early April.
The airline has since been fined for allowing employees to work while infected.
But, unfortunately, this is a case of too little, too late. The damage had already been done.
Entire families have fallen ill with the virus, some schools in Okinawa have canceled classes and according to The Strait Times, more than 170 people have canceled upcoming trips.
However, this isn’t entirely necessary. While measles can be seriously harmful to infants and expectant mothers, it won’t kill healthy people who seek immediate medical attention.
There are also ways to ensure you don’t catch it in the first place.
If you’re traveling abroad it is always advisable to have a series of vaccinations, especially if you’re going off the beaten track or to a developing country.
And while you may have received the measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox) vaccination (MMRV) when you were a child, it is wise to have a top up before you set off.
Contact your local doctor to arrange an appointment.
The symptoms of measles:
- Feeling feverish
- Running a high temperature
- A dry cough
- A sore throat
- Conjunctivitis (sore, inflamed eyes)
- Red blotchy skin and tiny white spots with a bluish-white center on the inside of your cheek
If you have a combination of any of these symptoms and suspect its more than just a common cold, get yourself checked out by a medical professional immediately.
Not sure if you have it?
For the first 10 to 14 days after contracting measles, the virus incubates in your body.
Without showing symptoms it will slowly weaken your immune system.
Mild forms of the listed symptoms will then begin to display until your temperature skyrockets around 20 days after first catching it.
The red rash and overwhelming feeling of illness will then take over your body.
This is when the virus is most communicable. For around five days after the symptoms subside measles can still be transmitted.
How to stay measles free:
There is no need cancel any scheduled plans to Japan or Taiwan but getting vaccinated is a must.
If you’re currently traveling around Japan or Taiwan and think you may have come into contact with an infected person, seek medical help and request a shot of immunoglobulin.
Immunoglobulin can help to reduce the effects of the virus.
You can also get yourself a cute facemask to be extra cautious.
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Source: Travels travelwireasia.com