Cayman’s Public Health Department issued an alert Friday about an outbreak of measles in Florida and other states in the US.
There have been no reports of measles in the Cayman Islands, officials at the department said. However, the Pan American Health Organisation recently alerted Caribbean health departments to be on the lookout for measles and rubella “as a precaution”.
PAHO officials advise that the following symptoms are highly likely to be present in cases of measles – rash that follows onset of fever; cough, acute respiratory infection or conjunctivitis (pink eye); and sore throat.
“As some Caribbean countries are still experiencing cases of dengue fever, in which patients may also present with fever and rash, PAHO has advised that all cases presenting with fever and rash should be tested for measles and rubella,” a statement from the Public Health Department noted.
Individuals who suspect that they or anyone in their care may have measles should contact the Public Health Department.
“Officials will provide guidance on the management and investigation of the case. Among other aspects, they emphasised it is essential to ensure adequate and timely sample collection,” the department stated.
While the Cayman Islands is measles-free, the health alert follows two confirmed cases of measles imported to the region from France. Officials also noted outbreaks of measles in 19 of the United States, namely Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said the Public Health Department has acted quickly to strengthen its monitoring for potential cases of measles and rubella. This is critical, Dr. Williams says, as while we are almost at the end of the winter tourist season, travellers from many different countries are consistently passing through the country’s borders.
Expanded Programme on Immunization Coordinator Nurse Angela Graham urged persons to protect themselves and to ensure that their loved ones are up to date with measles vaccinations and all other vaccinations.
“The Cayman Islands is currently measles-free. As such the measles vaccination is an important means by which we may continue to protect ourselves and our families from a disease that is extremely contagious and which can lead to dangerous complications,” Nurse Graham noted in the press release.
The Public Health Department can be contacted at 244-2621.