Health Dept. issues measles warning

Following notification of measles outbreaks in the United States, Europe and Jamaica, the Public Health Department is appealing to parents and guardians of small children to check their children’s immunisation records, to determine whether they received measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations.

‘Unprotected children are at the greatest risk of contracting this virus,’ said Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kiran Kumar.

‘While there have been no measles cases in the Cayman Islands since 1990, there is a possibility of an outbreak here in Cayman Islands, should a case be imported,’ he continued. ‘It is the duty of parents and guardians to ensure that their children are protected.’

The measles vaccine is administered as a combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The MMR vaccine is strongly endorsed by medical and public health experts as safe and effective.

All children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first dose is recommended at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age.

Two doses are recommended for anyone who was not vaccinated earlier, or does not have immunity (as confirmed by a blood test or a physician’s diagnosis of measles).

One case has also been reported in Jamaica.

‘These cases remind us that it is important to vaccinate children and adults to protect them against measles’ said Mr. Kumar.

Mr. Kumar is advising any parent or guardian in doubt about their child’s MMR status, or whose children are known to need immunisation, to contact the Public Health Department, their district health centre or their private paediatrician.

Anyone in doubt of their child’s immunization status, or whose children need to be immunised should call the Public Health Department, their district health centre or their private paediatrician.

Contact numbers for the Public Health Department and the clinics are: Public Health Department: 244-2648; Bodden Town Health Centre: 947-2299; East End Health Centre: 947-7440; North Side Health Centre: 947-9525; West Bay Health Centre: 949-3439; Faith Hospital (Cayman Brac): 948-2243; Little Cayman Clinic: 948-0072.

FYI

Measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus. The virus normally grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and the lungs.

Transmission:

*The disease is highly contagious, and can be transmitted from four days prior to the onset of the rash, to four days after the onset;

*If one person has it, 90 per cent of their susceptible close contacts will also be-come infected with the measles virus;

*When an infected person sneezes or coughs, droplets spray into the air, spreading the infected mucous to others who may breathe it in. They also may touch a surface that the infected mucous has landed on, and then touch their mouths or noses;

*The virus remains active and contagious on infected surfaces for up to two hours.

Symptoms:

*Symptoms begin to appear about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus;

*First indicator is generally a fever lasting about two to four days that can peak as high as 105;

*Fever is followed with the onset of a cough, runny nose, and/or conjunctivitis (pink eye);

*A rash usually appears about 14 days after exposure and lasts five to six days. It begins at the hairline, and moves to the face and upper neck;

*Over the next three days, the rash gradually proceeds downward and outward, reaching the hands and feet.

Complications:

*Approximately 20 per cent of reported measles cases experience one or more complications;

*Diarrhoea, ear infections, pneumonia, en-cephalitis, seizures, and death;

*As many as one out of 20 children with measles gets pneumonia;

*About one child in every 1,000 who gets measles will develop encephali-tis. (This is an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, and can leave your child deaf or mentally retarded.);

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