GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, has been alerted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to increase vigilance due to a confirmed case of measles in the Caribbean that was imported from the United Kingdom (UK).
CPS surveillance system is now on alert for suspected cases from the sub-Region and any country from Europe where there is an outbreak of measles.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that can cause potentially serious illness. As measles remains endemic in most parts of the world, it can spread to any country, including those that have eliminated the disease.
Every un- or under-immunized person regardless of age is therefore at risk of contracting the disease; this is especially true in those countries where persistently low immunization rates increase the risk of a large outbreak with possible tragic consequences.
Countries should achieve and/or sustain at least 95% coverage with two doses of measles-containing vaccine to prevent circulation in the event of an importation of measles.
Travelers who are not up to date on their vaccinations are at higher risk of contracting measles when in close contact with travelers from countries where the viruses still circulate.
The Region of the Americas is the first in the world to have eliminated measles. The achievement culminates a 22-year effort involving mass vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella throughout the Americas.
Measles is the fifth vaccine-preventable disease to be eliminated from the Americas, after the regional eradication of smallpox in 1971, poliomyelitis in 1994, and rubella and congenital rubella syndrome in 2015.
CPS advises guardians and parents to check their children’s vaccination status to see whether they are up to date, adding that it is important to keep the Americas Region measles-free.
If persons decide to travel, they should also check their vaccination status and to make use of every opportunity to get vaccinated according to the vaccination schedule. Consult your physician for additional information.
The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.
Other individuals who should get their vaccination status checked are, health care workers, pregnant women, pre-and exam class students, as well as groups at risks such as waste/garbage handlers, the Police, hotel and restaurant workers, and others to verify and update their vaccination status, particularly on Hepatitis B and Tetanus.
Immunization averts an estimated two-three million deaths every year, protecting children from diphtheria, measles, pertussis (better known as whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella, tetanus and others.