Costa Rica’s Health Ministry confirmed Thursday afternoon three imported cases of the measles, the country’s first since 2014.
The affected are a 5-year-old French boy, his mother and father, according to the Health Ministry. The family has been placed in quarantine at Hospital Monseñor Sanabria in Puntarenas.
The mother and child do not have the measles vaccine, according to the Health Ministry, while the father has not completed the entire vaccination series. They had arrived in Costa Rica on Feb. 18.
The Health Ministry says it will investigate what contact the contagious family may have had with susceptible people.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in mucus and can spread through coughing and sneezing. The virus can also survive for two hours in an airspace where the infected person has coughed or sneezed, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC estimates measles killed 500 people annually in the United States before a vaccine was developed in 1963.
Costa Rica requires proof of yellow fever vaccination for tourists visiting from at-risk countries, according to the CDC. However, the Health Ministry says Costa Rica cannot require travelers to have had the complete measles vaccine due to standards set by the World Health Organization.
The CDC recommends “all children get two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.”
Anyone traveling internationally should be protected against measles, the CDC says.
Inform the Health Ministry if you or someone you know has a fever, nasal congestion, cough, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis), or a splotchy, red rash that begins in the face — especially if the person with these symptoms has recently been in an area with reported measles cases.
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