Measles in Afghanistan

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Key points

  • There is an outbreak of measles in Afghanistan. Cases have been reported in all provinces, with the highest rates occurring in Paktya, Balkh, Kunduz, Zabul, Kandahar, and Logar.
  • All travelers to Afghanistan, including infants and preschool-aged children, should be fully vaccinated against measles according to Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) immunization schedules.
  • Travelers should seek medical care if they develop a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, or red, watery eyes. Measles is highly contagious. Travelers with suspected measles should notify the healthcare facility before visiting so staff can implement precautions to prevent spread within the facility.  

What can clinicians do?

A self-report of measles vaccination or self-reported history of measles infection is not adequate evidence of protection. Clinicians should vaccinate anyone 6 months or older traveling overseas who does not have written documentation of vaccination or other evidence of measles immunity. Infants aged 6-11 months should be vaccinated with one dose before travel.*  For travelers 12 months or older, two doses at least 28 days apart are recommended.

*Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should be revaccinated according to the routine ACIP schedule (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose separated by at least 28 days). 

Traveler Information

Clinician Information

Map showing measles outbreaks in Afghanistan
Map: Measles in Afghanistan (see larger map)
What is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads through the air by direct contact with infectious droplets or by airborne spread when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. The measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace after an infected person leaves an area.

People can spread measles up to four days before and four days after a rash.

Signs and symptoms of measles include maculopapular rash, high fever, and a cough, runny nose, or red, watery eyes.

Measles can be severe in all age groups and can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and death. Several groups are more likely to suffer from measles complications, including children younger than five years of age, adults older than 20 years of age, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems, such as from leukemia or HIV infection.