Since the last update on December 10th 2019 there are now 21 confirmed cases of measles. The latest confirmed cases are a 13 year old from Nasilai Village in Nakelo Rewa, and a 27 year old from Saumakia Village in Naitasiri. Both new cases are contacts of previously confirmed measles cases in those villages. The Rewa and Naitasiri outbreak response teams have carried out the necessary interventions including isolation of cases, quarantine and vaccination of contacts and at risk communities as appropriate.
The 9 month old child from Davuilevu in Rewa (who also stayed at Saumakia Settlement in Naitasiri), reported as a confirmed case in the last update, is still admitted under isolation at CWM Hospital in a stable condition.
The 21 cases to date are from the following areas in the Central Division:
- 12 cases from the Serua/Namosi Subdivision (Wailali, Wainadoi, Navunikabi, and Makosoi Deuba)
- 4 cases from Suva Subdivision (Samabula, Vatuwaqa, Tacirua, Wailekutu).
- 4 cases from Rewa Subdivision (Koronivia, Nasilai Village Nakelo, Davuilevu).
- 1 case from Naitasiri Subdivision (Saumakia Village)
Measles is a highly contagious disease; therefore, non-essential travel to Saumakia Village in Naitasiri, Serua/Namosi, and Nasilai Village in Nakelo Rewa is strongly discouraged.
Mass Immunisation Campaign Update
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has expanded the measles immunisation campaign across Fiji.
Since the outbreak was declared on Thursday 7 November 2019, around 200,000 people in Fiji have been immunised against measles.
The national campaign will continue to target people who are most at risk of being infected by measles and spreading the disease.
Target groups are:
- All children aged 6 months to 5 years
- All people born between 1980 and 2000 (19 to 39 year olds who should have ID available if asked)
- Any child in Fiji who has not received 2 doses of a measles vaccine according to the national immunisation schedule
- Any child in Fiji aged 12 and 18 months in Fiji who are due their routine measles immunisation according to the national immunisation schedule
- Any person in Fiji travelling overseas (evidence of travel must be provided i.e. a travel itinerary or ticket)
- All health care workers
- All airport and port-of-entry workers, and hotel staff
The only exceptions to those in the above groups are pregnant women, children under the age of 6 months, those with compromised immune systems (including those on immunosuppressive medication/treatment), and those with a known allergy to the vaccine. These people should not be vaccinated.
People aged 40 and over are not a target group. They are likely to have had measles as a child (before the vaccine was introduced) and therefore have life-long immunity.
The campaign will continue in Central Division and started in Western and Eastern Divisions on Friday 13 December. It will start in Northern Division on Monday 16 December.
People who got vaccinated in phase one of the campaign will not be vaccinated again in phase two.
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. And we also thank the World Health Organisation for their continuous technical support.
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 Saumakia Village in Naitasiri, 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 weeks before travel. This especially applies to visitors traveling from other countries with measles outbreaks i.e. New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.