Cayman issues alert over US measles outbreak

Parents in the Cayman Islands are urged to ensure their children’s measles vaccinations are up to date following an outbreak of the disease in the U.S. and Canada.

The Public Health Department issued an alert Wednesday to travelers to and from North America.

“Although there is no need to be alarmed at this stage, we ask that anyone returning from the U.S. where there is currently an outbreak, and who are experiencing a sudden high fever accompanied by a rash, to seek medical attention immediately,” said acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams.

Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 6, 121 people from 17 U.S. states were reported to have measles. Several cases were also reported in Canada. Most of these cases are part of an ongoing outbreak which started at Disneyland in California. According to reports, the majority of the cases were among unvaccinated people or those without evidence of vaccination.

“If you are traveling to any of the affected areas with a measles outbreak, safeguard yourself and your family by ensuring that yours and your children’s immunizations against measles are up to date,” added Dr. Williams.

“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.”

For complete protection, children over 12 months of age should have two doses of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Any child between 6-11 months of age traveling abroad is recommended to have one dose of the MMR vaccine.

There have been no measles cases in the Cayman Islands since 1990. Local immunization coverage against measles and mumps is around 90 percent among children 15 months old and about 97 percent by the time they reach school age, according to the Public Health Department.