Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Suspected Measles Case in Nassau

The Ministry of Health is advising of an ongoing investigation by the public health team into a suspected case of measles in a four (4) year old child visiting The Bahamas.

On 18th February, 2019 the Ministry was notified of a child which presented to a private health care facility in New Providence with fever, red eyes, coryza and rash.  The parents gave a recent history of travel from Europe and a vaccination history for the child which did not include the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) immunization.  The child is receiving required care, is doing well and is expected to recover fully.  Results from tests taken are expected to be available within the next few days, at which time the Ministry will provide an update.

Measles is an acute viral illness transmitted by respiratory droplets.  The illness is characterized by the onset of fever (as high as 105°F) and malaise, cough, coryza, and conjunctivitis, followed by a distinctive rash referred to as a “maculopapular rash”.   The rash spreads from head to chest and body then to lower extremities. Measles is usually a mild or moderately severe illness. However, measles can result in complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis, and death.  A rare long-term sequelae of measles virus infection is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a fatal disease of the central nervous system that generally develops 7–10 years after infection.

Measles is a vaccine preventable illness.  Childhood immunization with the MMR vaccine has proven effective in preventing measles.  The Bahamas, has not had a case of measles since 1997 and has been certified measles free.  Like many countries in the region of the Americas however, due to increasing numbers of refusals of vaccines and declining national coverage in vaccines, including the MMR vaccine, the risk of transmission of this preventable illness is increasing.

In response, the Ministry is currently conducting a campaign targeting all children ten years and younger as well as front line workers such as Police, Customs and Immigration Officers, Health Care Workers and Hospitality industry workers.  The aim is to increase the national MMR coverage in children and persons at highest risk for exposure.   

Parents are reminded to ensure children present for scheduled immunizations to keep them protected from preventable illnesses such as measles.

Additionally, should you, your child or any one you know experience symptoms, seek medical care from your primary care provider or nearest community clinic.

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