Media Release 7: Measles (20 Nov 2019)
Since the last update on November 19th 2019 there are now 9 confirmed cases of measles from Serua/Namosi Subdivision. The latest confirmed cases are a 15 year old from Wainadoi, and a 2 year old who had been staying in Waibogi Serua. The 2 year old returned home to Koronivia on November 18th and is currently admitted under isolation at the CWM Hospital in Suva after presenting to Nakasi Health Centre on November 19th. The respective outbreak response teams are responding to the notification of the new cases, which includes vaccination and quarantine of contacts if needed.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is urging employers to provide their support to the control of this outbreak by not penalizing employees that are placed under quarantine and subsequently are unable to work. Quarantine is needed to protect others from getting the disease, and employees must be allowed to comply with quarantine without fear for loss of income or employment. Those under quarantine will be provided with the appropriate medical certification for the quarantine period.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services would also like to acknowledge the response of the public in presenting to our health facilities for the measles vaccine and we recognize the dedication of the doctors, nurses, environmental health officers, and others who have been working hard to contain the outbreak in Serua/Namosi.
As mentioned in the past, the measles vaccine is in limited supply and therefore the Ministry of Health and Medical Services would like to inform the public that there is an interim shortage of the measles vaccine. For this reason, the remaining measles vaccine stock will be prioritised to those who are at the greatest risk of catching and spreading measles and it is not available for the general public until additional stocks arrive in the coming days.
Current stocks are being reserved for the following high-risk target groups:
The residents of Serua/Namosi
Children from the ages of 6 months to 3 years
People travelling overseas, however proof of travel must be shown i.e. ticket/travel itinerary, not just a passport
The routine immunisation of children at 12 and 18 months of age will continue as per the national immunisation schedule.
The only exceptions to those in the above groups are pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, and those with a known allergy to the vaccine. These people should not be vaccinated
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 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 (5), babies younger than one (1) year old, pregnant women, adults over the age of twenty (20), 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 (12) months of age. Fiji’s immunization coverage for children is good, and the Ministry also conducted a supplemental campaign in 2017 for all one (1) to ten (10) year olds. Please ensure your children have received at least two (2) 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.