Media Release 11: Measles (3 Dec 2019)

Report
from Government of Fiji
Published on 03 Dec 2019 View Original

SUNIL CHANDRA

Since the last update on November 28th 2019 there are now 15 confirmed cases of measles. The latest confirmed case is a 38 year old from Nasilai Village in Nakelo – Rewa Subdivision. The Rewa Subdivisional Outbreak Response Team is rapidly responding to notification of this latest case. The response includes isolation of the case, and quarantine and vaccination of contacts and the at risk community as appropriate.

The 15 cases to date are from the following areas:

  • 11 cases from the Serua/Namosi Subdivision (Wailali, Wainadoi, Navunikabi, and Makosoi Deuba)

  • 2 cases from Suva (Samabula and Vatuwaqa) Subdivision

  • 2 cases from Rewa (Koronivia, Nasilai Village Nakelo) Subdivision.

Measles is a highly contagious disease; therefore, non-essential travel to Serua/Namosi and Nasilai Village in Nakelo is strongly discouraged.

Measles is very contagious. To help stop the spread of the disease, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services also advises Fijians to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid non-essential travel to Serua/Namosi and Nasilai Village in Nakelo. If you need to travel to these areas, please get vaccinated against measles at least two weeks before travel. Please avoid taking those that cannot get vaccinated (e.g. babies under the age of 6 months and pregnant women) to the outbreak areas.

  • Avoid holding or attending large gatherings of people, especially in Central Division, but also those that bring participants from across the country or overseas (such as youth camps, religious gatherings, graduation ceremonies, sporting events, etc.). Measles can spread very easily among large groups of people if they are not immune, who can then take the disease back into their communities.

  • If you are holding an event with international visitors, or participants from an outbreak area, please strongly encourage them to get vaccinated against measles at least two (2) weeks before travel. This especially applies to visitors traveling from other countries with measles outbreaks i.e. New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is conducting an immunisation campaign targeting people who may not be fully immunised and are most at risk of measles infection. Already close to 100,000 people around the country have been vaccinated in phase one of the campaign. This includes over 20,000 people in the outbreak area of Serua/Namosi.

The second phase of this immunisation campaign will begin Wednesday 4th December. Across Fiji it will target people in the groups listed below:

1) Any child in Fiji who has not received 2 doses of a measles vaccine as per the national immunisation schedule

2) Any child in Fiji aged 12 and 18 months who is due their routine measles vaccine as per the national immunisation schedule

3) Any person in Fiji travelling overseas, however evidence of travel must be provided i.e. travel itinerary or ticket

4) All health care workers in Fiji

5) All airport and hotel staff

In Central Division only, the campaign will also target:

1) All children aged 6 months to 5 years

2) All people born between 1980 and 2000 (19 to 39 year olds).

3) All residents of Serua/Namosi aged 6 months and older.

Pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, and those with a known allergy to the vaccine should not be vaccinated. Central Division is prioritized for this phase of the campaign as all confirmed cases to date are in this division, and the focus remains on containing the current outbreak. A batch of 200,000 vaccines has arrived in the country and will be distributed in time to commence the campaign. The majority of these vaccines will be targeted for Central Division for the reasons detailed above. The other divisions will be targeted once more vaccine supplies, which are currently on order, are received.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services wishes to acknowledge the assistance provided by UNICEF and the Australian and New Zealand Governments in securing vaccines for Fiji.

Measles information

Transmission

Measles is a highly infectious airborne viral disease that spreads easily through the air through breathing, coughing, and sneezing. You are at risk of getting measles if you breathe the same air as someone with the disease and you are not immune. You are not immune if you have not been vaccinated, or you have never had the disease.

Symptoms The symptoms of measles 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.

Treatment

There is no specific antiviral 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.

Complications

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

Prevention

A safe and effective vaccine exists for measles. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services provides measles vaccine free to children. Since 2003, all children in Fiji are offered two (2) doses of the combination measles-rubella vaccine – starting from twelve months of age. Fiji’s immunization coverage for children is good, and the Ministry also conducted a supplemental campaign in 2017 for all one to ten year olds. Please ensure your children have received at least two doses of the measles vaccine according to the Fiji immunization schedule. This information should be in your child’s ‘Fiji Child Health Record’ (which is a booklet/card every child born in Fiji is provided) for children under the age of 5, and the school health card for school aged children.

Measles in Fiji

Because we have an effective immunization program, measles is rare in Fiji. However, outbreaks around the world, including in neighbouring countries, still puts Fiji at risk of having cases of measles.