Editorial comment: Measles update

Measles vaccine Picture: JOVESA NAISUA/FILE

The revelation that there are now nine confirmed cases of measles in the Serua/Namosi Subdivision must stand as a warning for us.

Health authorities yesterday said the latest confirmed cases were that of a 15-year-old from Wainadoi, and a two-year-old who had been staying in Waibogi, Serua.

The two-year-old, it stated, returned home to Koronivia on November 18 and is now admitted under isolation at the CWM Hospital in Suva after presenting to the Nakasi Health Centre on November 19.

It stated outbreak response teams were responding to the notification of the new cases, which included vaccination and quarantine of contacts if needed.

As part of the quarantine process, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has urged employers to support efforts to control the outbreak by not penalising employees placed under quarantine.

The ministry yesterday acknowledged the public response to get vaccinated at various health facilities.

Measles is a highly infectious airborne viral disease that spreads easily through the air through breathing, coughing, and sneezing.

It is highly contagious and you are at risk getting measles if you breathe the same air as someone with the disease and you are not immune.

You are not immune, according to the ministry, if you have not been vaccinated, or you have never had the disease.

The symptoms of measles, it stated, 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.

It stated there was 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.

Some people infected with measles develop severe complications such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) or encephalitis (brain swelling).

Children under the age of five, babies younger than one-year-old, pregnant women, adults over the age of twenty, and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk of complications.

We are told that measles is rare in Fiji because we have an effective immunisation program.

However, the ministry stated, outbreaks around the world, including in neighbouring countries, still puts Fiji at risk of having cases of measles.

So let’s take appropriate action today. We have been warned.

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