By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
PUBLIC health officials are investigating a suspected case of measles in a four-year-old tourist.
The Ministry of Health was reportedly notified on Monday that a child had gone to a private health care facility in New Providence with the symptoms of the disease.
According to its statement, 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) immunisation.
“The child is receiving required care, is doing well and is expected to recover fully,” according to the statement. “Results from tests taken are expected to be available within the next few days, at which time the Ministry will provide an update.”
The Bahamas, has not had a case of measles since 1997, according to the ministry, which said the country has been certified as measles free.
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.
“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,” the ministry statement continued.
The penalty for failing to have a child vaccinated is $4, according to the 159-year-old Vaccination Act of 1860.
As of 2016, only 89 percent of children received the MMR1 vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella – the lowest rate since 2012.
Measles is a preventable vaccine for 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 from 7 to 10 years after infection.