Measles outbreak confirmed by health officials

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Following tests, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Thursday that the four-year-old child who was visiting The Bahamas from Europe was in fact infected with measles.

Health officials said the infected child will remain hospitalized until he is no longer infectious.

The Ministry of Health advised on Wednesday that they were investigating a “suspected case” when it was notified on February 28 that a child was presented to a private health care facility in New Providence with fever, red eyes, coryza and rash.

Health officials moved to run tests on the child and the results, revealed yesterday at a press conference, came back positive.

The Bahamas has not had a case of measles since 1997, and has also been certified as a ‘measles free’ country.

Yesterday, Dr. Sands said they are looking into the timeline of travel and who the child may have interacted with since arriving in the capital.

“The public health surveillance team is carrying out the necessary activities to assess risk of exposure in potential contacts,” Dr. Sands said.

As of 2016, Dr. Sands said the measles vaccine coverage was at 89 per cent with a slight increase to 91 per cent in 2017. Now the Health ministry said the only way to prevent the disease from spreading is to keep the vaccine coverage above 95 per cent.

“The Ministry is currently conducting an MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] campaign targeting all children ten years and younger as well as front line workers such as Police, Customs and Immigration Officers, health care workers and hospitality industry workers,” Dr. Sands said.

“The aim is to increase the national MMR coverage in children and persons at highest risk for exposure.

“Government clinics will provide increase access to vaccine by extending immunization sessions through opening hours.”

Dr. Sands said the MMR vaccine has proven effective in preventing measles and he referred to the controversy surrounding the use of vaccinations and persons who are not opting to get them as ‘rubbish’.