CDC: Before Traveling Abroad, Children Need Measles Vaccine
Even though measles has been wiped out in the United States for more than a decade, Americans traveling abroad continue to bring the highly contagious virus back—and the government says such cases may be on the rise. During the first two months of this year alone, 13 people returning from an international trip developed measles, including seven young children ages 6 to 23 months. That number is comparable to the average number of cases seen each year between 2001 and 2010, according to a report published Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of the infected children had traveled internationally, and though they were eligible for vaccination before travel, none had received the MMR vaccine. Routine measles vaccination begins between 12 and 15 months, but babies as young as 6 months who are traveling internationally should also be vaccinated. "Measles importations and transmission from imported cases continue to pose a threat to U.S. residents," CDC researchers said in a press statement. "Travelers can be exposed to measles in the country of travel or while en route to and from that country, in airports or on airplanes." Measles, which spreads via coughing, sneezing, and mouth secretions, causes a high fever, runny nose, cough, and body rash; severe cases can lead to pneumonia or encephalitis. The virus affects 30 to 40 million people worldwide annually, with more than 730,000 deaths.
Attention Travelers: Is the Bedbug Threat Real?
Feel like snuggling up to a bedbug or two? Sightings are on the rise nationwide at homes, schools, and—travelers take note—hotels and motels. Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Chicago are among the worst-hit cities, according to Terminix, the pest-control company. And entomologists say the number of bedbugs continues to increase each year worldwide, likely because of the longtime ban on DDT in many countries, resistance to current pesticides, and growth of international travel.
But are the tiny bloodsuckers as big a threat as media coverage suggests? The answer seems to be yes—and no. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an entomologist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University, has yet to spot a bedbug in a hotel room, but on two occasions entomologists she was traveling with encountered infestations. The risk "is very real," she says. "Everyone who travels needs to be aware and vigilant, because self-protection is important."
Last year, a Michigan woman sued the swanky Waldorf-Astoria in New York for financial and emotional distress, claiming a bedbug attack during a May visit. According to her attorney, she suffered more than 100 bites and the bugs followed her to her Midwest home; the family had to move out for six weeks and paid $4,500 in extermination bills and thousands more for other cleaning costs. In a press statement, the hotel asserted that her room had been checked and pronounced bedbug-free. [Read more: Attention Travelers: Is the Bedbug Threat Real?]
How to Have an Allergy-Free Hotel Stay
In a nod to the 40 million Americans with allergies and asthma, a growing number of hotels are unveiling hypoallergenic rooms—eliminating bothersome dust mites, mold, and mildew spores. Last year, Hyatt Hotels launched Respire by Hyatt, an initiative that calls for 2,000 hypoallergenic rooms at 125 of its properties nationwide. The rooms, already offered at more than 70 of the chain's hotels, cost an extra $20 to $30 a night.
"When you travel, you don't know what you're walking into. You don't know the environment, and you can't tweak it to make yourself comfortable like you can at home," says Brian Brault, CEO of Pure Solutions, a New York-based company that's converting rooms at Hyatt and other chains. "Any new living space will create problems for people with allergies."
Indeed, one night in a hotel room can lead to swollen eyes, a clogged nose, and a scratchy throat—symptoms that tend to dampen the traveling experience. Exactly what counts as a hypoallergenic room, however, varies. Some hotels are taking steps to become more allergy-friendly, by adding air purifiers, replacing drapes with blinds, or ripping out carpet in favor of hardwood floor, while others, like Hyatt, are going all out to make rooms allergy-free. [Read more: How to Have an Allergy-Free Hotel Stay.]
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