Since the last update on December 26th, 2019 there are now 27 confirmed cases of measles. The latest confirmed cases are a 12 year old from Sakoca in Tacirua who is linked to a previous case in the same area, and a 39 year old from Nasole in Nasinu who was admitted at CWM Hospital and later discharged home.
The 3-month-old baby reported in previous updates is still admitted at CWM Hospital. All other confirmed cases have recovered or are recovering well under home isolation.
All 27 cases are from the following areas in the Central Division:
- 12 cases from the Serua/Namosi Subdivision (Wailali, Wainadoi, Navunikabi, and Makosoi Deuba)
- 8 cases from Suva Subdivision (Nabua, Samabula, Vatuwaqa, Sakoca in Tacirua, Wailekutu and Naikorokoro Village in Lami).
- 3 cases from Rewa Subdivision (Koronivia, Nasilai Village Nakelo, Davuilevu).
- 4 cases from Naitasiri Subdivision (Saumakia Village)
Measles is a highly contagious disease; therefore, non-essential travel to Sakoca in Tacirua, Naikorokoro Village in Lami, Saumakia Village in Naitasiri, Nasilai Village in Nakelo Rewa, and Serua/Namosi, and is strongly discouraged.
National Measles Immunisation Campaign Update
The national measles immunisation campaign was temporarily suspended on December 27th 2019 due to Tropical Cyclone Sarai and will restart in all divisions by Monday January 6th. The national campaign will continue to target people who are most at risk of being infected by measles and spreading the disease. Since the outbreak was declared on Thursday 7 November 2019, around 328,000 people in Fiji have been immunised against measles.
To date all confirmed cases of measles have been within the Central Division, and as of December 24th 2019 over 200,000 people in this division have been vaccinated. The Central Division has also reached the goal of 95% vaccination coverage during the campaign for the target groups of 6mth-5 year olds and 19-39 year olds. With time, reaching this coverage goal is expected to result in a reduction of cases and an eventual end to the outbreak in Central Division. However, cases continue to be reported, and the public is advised to keep listening to advice from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services regarding avoidance of non-essential travel to affected areas and mass gatherings.
Vaccination for the target groups will still be offered at health centres in Central Division, and also used in response to newly reported cases. If you are in a target group and have not been vaccinated yet please come forward to be vaccinated now. We are especially urging parents of children aged 6 months to 5 years of age to get their children vaccinated against measles during this campaign, even if the child has received all routine vaccinations according to the national immunisation schedule. Children under the age of 5 are most at risk of being infected by measles and developing the complications of the disease.
The Western, Northern, and Eastern Divisions will continue the measles immunisation campaign with the aim of vaccinating at least 95% of people in the target groups. Our teams will continue to work to reach every person eligible for the vaccine through house to house visits, at health centres, and immunisation outreach posts – a list of outreach posts will be made available to the public in an advisory shortly.
The national Measles campaign is targeting people who are most at risk of being infected by measles and spreading the disease:
- All children aged 6 months to 5 years regardless of prior vaccination history
- All people born between 1980 and 2000 (19 to 39-year olds who should have ID available if asked)
- Any child who has not received 2 doses of a measles vaccine according to the national immunisation schedule
- Any child aged 12 and 18 months in Fiji who are due their routine measles immunisation according to the national immunisation schedule
- Any person travelling overseas (with evidence of travel 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.
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.