Media Release 4: Measles
To date the measles outbreak is confined to the Serua/Namosi Subdivision, and specifically the Wailali Settement in Wainadoi. A Measles Taskforce has been convened by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to coordinate the response to the outbreak and assist the respective divisional and subdivisional teams.
Since the last update on 7th November there has been zero new cases – one of the suspected cases from the 7th November update was subsequently confirmed to have measles after lab testing.
There are three confirmed cases and one suspected case reported from Wailali Settlement in Wainadoi. The three confirmed cases are a four-month-old baby and two adults between the ages of twenty and twenty-five. The four month old baby continues to be admitted in a stable condition, in isolation, at Navua hospital, and the Serua/Namosi Subdivisional Outbreak Response Team are conducting daily monitoring of the two adults, who are recovering well in home quarantine. The six-year-old suspected case has since recovered.
According to Head of Health Protection at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr Aalisha Sahukhan: “All the cases are linked and investigations are continuing into any potential exposures they may have had to international travellers. At this point the Serua/Namosi Subdivisional Outbreak Response Team are working hard to control the outbreak within their subdivision. And they have the full support of the rest of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services”
The Serua/Namosi Subdivisional Outbreak Response Team (SORT) recently completed annual refresher training in outbreak response conducted by the Ministry’s Fiji Centre for Communicable Disease Control (Fiji CDC). And in response to the outbreak in their subdivision the team have implemented their measles action plan.
Some of the actions of the subdivisional team:
• Activated the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at Navua Hospital.
• Established triage and isolation areas in Navua hospital for any potential suspected cases of measles. All suspected cases are being managed according to guidance issued by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
• Vaccinated over three hundred people in Wailali and surrounding communities. Teams are deployed daily to vaccinate anyone aged six months and over in the outbreak area. Pregnant women, the immunocompromised, and those with a known allergy to the vaccine will not be vaccinated.
• The subdivisional team are also onsite at the Uprising Music Festival this weekend to raise awareness on measles and provide vaccination for festival goers
For residents of Serua/Namosi:
Measles vaccine is available to anyone living in Serua/Namosi aged six months and over. Pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, and those with a known allergy to the vaccine will not be vaccinated.
Please contact the Subdivisional Medical Officer Serua/Namosi if you have symptoms of measles.
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.
To contact the Subdivisional Medical Officer Serua/Namosi, phone: 8919356 or 9493213.
For the rest of Fiji:
Vaccination against measles is currently available for free at your nearest health centre for the two groups listed below. Vaccines are not available at the emergency departments of the CWM, Lautoka, or Labasa hospitals. Please do not come to these emergency departments for vaccination.
1. Children: The Ministry of Health and Medical Services provides measles vaccine free to children. Since 2003, all children in Fiji are offered two doses of the combination measles-rubella vaccine- starting from twelve (12) months of age. The Ministry also conducted a supplemental measles immunization 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 five, and the school health card for school aged children.
If your child has not received two doses of the measles vaccine, or you are not sure, please visit your nearest health centre.
2. Those travelling overseas or to outbreak areas: Please avoid non-essential travel to the outbreak area. If you are intending to travel to Serua/Namosi, please get vaccinated against measles at least two weeks before travel (it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to take effect).
Babies aged between six months and twelve months can also get vaccinated if they are travelling to an area with an ongoing outbreak of measles- but they will still need to receive their next scheduled measles vaccines as per the Fiji immunisation schedule. Pregnant women, the immunocompromised, and those with a known allergy to the vaccine will not be vaccinated.
Please be aware of the symptoms of measles, and if you have them, please call ahead before going to your health centre to avoid spreading the disease to others.
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 breath 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 provide 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.