Measles alert issued

Cayman’s Public Health Department has issued a
travel alert in response to a measles outbreak in Europe.

“Although there is no need to be alarmed at
this stage, we ask that anyone returning from Europe experiencing a sudden high
fever accompanied by a rash to seek medical attention immediately,” said Medical
Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar.

“They should also give their travel history to
the attending physician for necessary investigation,” he added.

There have been no reported cases of measles
in the Cayman Islands since 1990.

Measles have been reported in the United
Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Serbia
Bulgaria and Turkey. India has also reported a measles outbreak.

So far this year, 53 cases have been reported
in England and Wales, with several of these being traced back to people
travelling to mainland Europe.

“If you are travelling to any of the affected
European countries, safeguard yourself and your family by ensuring that you and
your children’s immunisations against measles are up-to-date,” advised Dr.
Kumar.

He added: “Unprotected children are at the
greatest risk of contracting this virus, should a case be imported. It is the
duty of parents and guardians to ensure that their children are
protected.”

The Public Health Department has advised
healthcare workers in the private and public sectors of the PAHO alert and will
continue to monitor the situation and advise residents accordingly, he
assured.

According to the department, local
immunisation coverage against measles and mumps is around 90 per cent among
children aged 15 months old and about 97 per cent by the time they reach school
entry age of four or five.

Endemic measles has been eliminated in the
Americas, with the last case reported in 2002. In the Caribbean, this year
marked the 20th without an indigenous case of the measles.

However, measles is still common in many
developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, and people visiting these
regions should pay attention to possible symptoms.

“Regionally, while there has been great
progress, once again I emphasise that measles can be reintroduced as we have
many residents and visitors travelling to and from the affected areas and we
should therefore remain vigilant,” Dr. Kumar said.

Measles is caused by a virus which normally
grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and lungs. It is a human
disease and is not known to occur in animals.

The first sign of measles is usually a high
fever which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus from a
measles case. A runny nose, cough along with red and watery eyes and small white
spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage followed by a rash on
the face and upper neck eventually reaching the hands and feet.

Close contact with other people for seven days
following onset of rash must be avoided. 

Anyone returning from the region with a
presentation of symptoms is urged to contact the Public Health Department on
244-2648 or 244-2621, or Faith Hospital on 948-2243.

 

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