Measles epidemic: Fiji records nine confirmed cases

Travellers who are uncertain about their measles vaccination status should receive at least one dose of a measles-containing vaccine at least 15 days prior to travel. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

FIJI’S Ministry of Health and Medical Services has this evening reported that there are now nine confirmed cases of measles from the Serua/Namosi subdivision.

A Government statement issued this evening stated that the latest confirmed cases are a 15-year-old from Wainadoi and a two-year-old who had been staying in Waibogi, Serua.

It stated the infant returned home to Koronivia on November 18 and was now admitted under isolation at the CWM hospital in Suva after he was presented to the Nakasi Health Centre on Tuesday, November 19.

The statement said the respective outbreak response teams were responding to the notification of the new cases, which included vaccination and quarantine of contacts if needed.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has now urged employers to provide their support to the control of this outbreak by not penalising employees that are placed under quarantine and subsequently are unable to work.

“Quarantine is needed to protect others from getting the disease, and employees must be allowed to comply with quarantine without fear for loss of income or employment. Those under quarantine will be provided with the appropriate medical certification for the quarantine period,” it stated.

The ministry also acknowledged the positive response from the public to vaccination.

At a glance:

Measles information

Transmission

Measles is a highly infectious airborne viral disease that spreads easily through the air through breathing, coughing, and sneezing. You are at risk of getting measles if you breathe the same air as someone with the disease and you are not immune. You are not immune if you have not been vaccinated, or you have never had the disease.

Symptoms

The symptoms of measles are:

Fever and a rash with any of the following: runny nose, sneezing, cough, red/watery eyes, white spots inside the mouth. The rash starts after the other symptoms and spreads all over the body.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for measles, as it is your body’s immune system that fights off the disease. Most people recover from a measles infection in 8-10 days with rest, and ensuring that they are eating and drinking to avoid dehydration.

Complications

Some people infected with measles develop severe complications such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) or encephalitis (brain swelling). These people require hospitalization. Children under the age of five (5), babies younger than one (1) year old, pregnant women, adults over the age of twenty (20), and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk of complications.

Prevention

A safe and effective vaccine exists for measles. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services provides measles vaccine free to children. Since 2003, all children in Fiji are offered two (2) doses of the combination measles-rubella vaccine – starting from twelve (12) months of age. Fiji’s immunization coverage for children is good, and the Ministry also conducted a supplemental campaign in 2017 for all one (1) to ten (10) year olds. Please ensure your children have received at least two (2) doses of the measles vaccine according to the Fiji immunization schedule. This information should be in your child’s ‘Fiji Child Health Record’ (which is a booklet/card every child born in Fiji is provided) for children under the age of 5, and the school health card for school aged children.

Measles in Fiji

Because we have an effective immunization program, measles is rare in Fiji. However, outbreaks around the world, including in neighbouring countries, still puts Fiji at risk of having cases of measles.

Source: Ministry of Health and Medical Services

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