Employers should remind staff who are working abroad to ensure their immunisations are up to date, following an outbreak of measles in several countries.
Outbreaks have been reported in Europe, the United States and south east Asia, with the World Health Organization (WHO) claiming cases rose by 300% internationally in the first three months of 2019.
More than 34,000 people across Europe caught measles in the first two months of 2019, with many cases reported in Ukraine, Romania and Albania – including some fatalities.
According to The Health Insurance Group, measles can cause debilitating or fatal complications, including encephalitis, severe diarrhoea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent vision loss.
However, it suggested that the “anti vax” movement – where parents choose not to vaccinate their children – might be part of the reason for the global outbreak of measles, particularly in wealthier countries.
Sarah Dennis, head of international for The Health Insurance Group said: “The outbreak of measles globally serves to highlight how viruses that are commonly believed to be ‘under control’, or assigned to history, can reappear suddenly. For businesses that have employees working abroad, particularly those with families, it’s important to remind them of the importance of ensuring their measles jabs are up to date.
“The same theory should be applied with other known viruses across different countries too.”
It recommended that organisations share reliable information about vaccinations, from reputable sources such as the NHS or the WHO, with their staff.
“It’s important that employees regularly communicate health information related to staff working abroad, to ensure the best protection is in place,” said Dennis.
“Outbreaks can occur quickly, yet communications within a country can be slow. So advising staff about the latest healthcare developments where they’re based, and what action can be taken, can help to ensure employees remain protected from outbreaks.”
Earlier this year, the WHO said the virus “will find its way into more pockets of vulnerable individuals and potentially spread to additional countries” if people do not vaccinate against measles.