Media Release 9: Measles

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27 November 2019

Since the last update on November 22nd 2019 there are now 13 confirmed cases of measles. The latest confirmed cases are a 22 year old from Wailali Settlement and a 16 year old from Navunikabi, both in the Serua/Namosi Subdivision. The third case is a 1-year-old child from Vatuwaqa Suva, who was admitted at CWM Hospital but has since been discharged home.

A 25-year-old pregnant woman, who was mentioned as a confirmed case in the last update, has also been discharged home from isolation at CWM Hospital. Currently there are no confirmed measles patients admitted in hospital, but this can change and the following restrictions at CWM are now in place:

The new visiting hour is 2.00pm to 3.00pm from Monday to Sunday.
Only one visitor will be allowed for each patient during the stated visiting hour.
Restrictions to visiting the intensive care unit for children and adults, and the designated Measles Isolation wards will be in place.
Triage sites are set up to assess and treat children, adults and pregnant mothers.

To date all but 2 of the confirmed cases are from, or are linked to, the Serua/Namosi Subdivision. And all the confirmed cases are in the Central Division.

Suspected cases continue to be reported, tested, and cleared when their results are confirmed negative by the National Public Health Laboratory. This includes an 11-year-old student of the Fiji School for the Blind, a suspected case who tested negative and was cleared, and a 1-year-old Kiribati national who also tested negative and was cleared.

The respective Sub-divisional Outbreak Response Teams continue to rapidly respond to notification of all cases and will not wait for a case to be confirmed by laboratory testing before launching the necessary interventions to prevent spread of the disease. The response includes isolation of the case, quarantine and vaccination of contacts and at-risk communities, as appropriate.

As mentioned in the past, the measles vaccine is now in limited supply and therefore will be prioritized to those who are at the greatest risk of catching and spreading measles. Currently the free vaccine is only available to:

• Children as per the routine national immunization schedule (at 12 months and 18 months of age). This includes children who have not received those 2 doses of the vaccine as scheduled.

• The residents of Serua/Namosi

Contacts of a measles case will also continue to be vaccinated as determined by the respective outbreak response team.

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

This current restriction will change after new vaccine stock arrives later this week – when it will be made available to further targeted groups identified by the Measles Taskforce. More information on these groups will be released shortly in an advisory.

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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 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 (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.

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 (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.

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