By RIEL MAJOR
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands confirmed the case of measles in the four-year-old tourist yesterday. He said the timeline of travel and illness onset strongly suggest the child’s exposure to measles occurred prior to his arrival in The Bahamas.
He said: “The child continues to do well and is expected to recover fully. This is the first confirmed case of measles in The Bahamas since 1997 and is imported.
“The public health surveillance team is carrying out necessary activities to assess risk of exposure in potential contacts.”
Dr Sands said The Ministry of Health 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 people at highest risk for exposure.
He said: “Government clinics will provide increase access to vaccine by extending immunization sessions through opening hours. Additionally, schools and workplace and planned community events will also be outreach sites.
“All are encouraged to update vaccine coverage and parents are reminded to ensure children present for scheduled immunizations to keep them protected from preventable diseases such as measles.
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 characterised 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.