Public Health Advisory of Measles Outbreak
Following reports of confirmed cases of measles in the United States of America (U.S.A), the Public Health Department has issued an alert to travellers to and from this region.
“Although there is no need to be alarmed at this stage, we ask that anyone returning from the U.S. where there are cases confirmed and who are experiencing a sudden high fever accompanied by a rash, to seek medical attention immediately. Persons should also provide their travel history to the attending physician for necessary investigation,” said Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez.
As of 21 May, there were 21 people from ten (10) states — Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas — who had contracted the disease, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“If you are travelling to any of the affected areas where measles has been confirmed, safeguard yourself and your family by ensuring that your, and your children’s, immunisations against measles are up to date,” advised Dr. Williams-Rodriguez.
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."
For complete protection, children older than 12 months should have two (2) doses of MMR (measles mumps and rubella) vaccine. Children between 6 and 11 months who are travelling abroad are recommended to have one dose of MMR vaccine.
Dr. Williams assures the community that the Public Health Department will continue to monitor the situation and advise residents accordingly.
There has been no measles in the Cayman Islands since 1990 and local immunisation coverage against measles and mumps is around 90 per cent among 15-month-old children and about 97 per cent by the time they reach school entry age (4 to 5 years).
“Regionally, while there has been great progress, I emphasise that measles can be reintroduced as we have many residents and visitors travelling to and from the Americas and we should therefore remain vigilant,” Dr. Williams-Rodriguez noted.
“The first sign of measles is usually a high fever which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus. 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,” he explained.
Measles is caused by a virus which grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and lungs. Measles is a human disease and is not known to occur in animals.
Close contact with other people following the onset of rash must be avoided for seven days.