Monday 17 June, 2019

Public put on high alert after US measles outbreak

The public is being urged to look out for symptoms of measles following an outbreak in several US States.

International health body, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), recently alerted health departments around the Caribbean to be on the lookout for measles and rubella as a precaution.

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 nineteen 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.

In light of this, the Public Health Department of the Cayman Islands is issuing an alert to the community of the need to be aware of the presence of measles within several states in the United States, including Florida. 

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) 
· 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.

Individuals who suspect that they or persons within 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. 

Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez assured that the Public Health Department has acted quickly to strengthen its monitoring for potential cases of measles and rubella. 

This is critical, Dr Williams explained, as although 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 (EPI) Coordinator Nurse, Angela Graham, urges 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 notes.

Private sector physicians may access any necessary investigation forms through the Public Health Department and the Cayman Islands Hospital.

For more information, contact the Public Health Department on 244-2621.

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