NASSAU, BAHAMAS -The Ministry of Health advised on Wednesday that its public health team is presently investigating a suspected case of measles in a four-year-old child visiting The Bahamas.
“On February 18, 2019, the Ministry was notified of a child which presented to a private health care facility in New Providence with fever, red eyes, coryza and rash,” the Ministry reported in a statement issued yesterday.
“The parents gave a recent history of travel from Europe and a vaccination history for the child which did not include the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) immunization.
“The child is receiving required care, is doing well and is expected to recover fully.
“Results from tests taken are expected to be available within the next few days, at which time the Ministry will provide an update.”
The Bahamas has not had a case of measles since 1997 and has also been certified as a ‘measles free” country. However, yesterday’s reported incident comes on the heels of a measles outbreak in the United States earlier this month, which has affected more than two dozen people, the majority of them children.
Measles is an acute viral illness transmitted by respiratory droplets.
The illness is characterized by the onset of fever (as high as 105°F) and malaise, cough, coryza, and conjunctivitis, followed by a distinctive rash referred to as a “maculopapular rash”.The rash spreads from head to chest and body then to lower extremities.
Measles is usually a mild or moderately severe illness. However, measles can result in complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis, and death.
A rare long-term sequelae of measles virus infection is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a fatal disease of the central nervous system that generally develops 7–10 years after infection.
The Ministry of Health said measles is a vaccine-preventable illness and childhood immunization with the MMR vaccine has proven effective in preventing the disease.
The Ministry of Health highlighted on Wednesday that the risk of transmission of measles is increasing because persons in many countries in the region and in the United States refuse to get the vaccine, and there is a declining national coverage in vaccines, including the MMR vaccine.
In response, the Ministry said it is currently conducting a campaign targeting all children 10 years and younger as well as front line workers such as Police, Customs and Immigration Officers, Health Care Workers and Hospitality industry workers.
“The aim is to increase the national MMR coverage in children and persons at highest risk for exposure,” the Ministry said. “Parents are reminded to ensure children present for scheduled immunizations to keep them protected from preventable illnesses such as measles.
“Additionally, should you, your child or anyone you know experience symptoms, seek medical care from your primary care provider or nearest community clinic,” the Ministry of Health advised.