The Ministry of Health has advised parents to ensure that their children’s measles immunisation is up-to-date, in light of an outbreak in Europe and the Americas.
In a statement today, the Ministry noted that while there had been no recent reported cases of measles in Barbados, there had been an imported case in Antigua and Barbuda, as well as cases in Argentina, Venezuela, Guatemala, the United States and Canada.
Although measles is typically considered a childhood disease, it could be contracted at any age. However, persons who have been infected in the past, have life-long immunity.
The Ministry recommended that unvaccinated individuals, one year and older, should receive the vaccination to protect themselves and those around them.
The measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine is generally given from 12 months of age in Barbados. The Ministry, however, cautioned that if persons were planning to travel to an area known to be endemic, then children six to 11 months should receive one dose of the vaccine; and adolescents and adults who did not have immunity should receive two doses at least 28 days apart.
The Ministry also reminded Barbadians that measles was an acute, highly contagious, viral disease for which there was no specific treatment. Signs and symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and rash, and in complicated cases, it can cause encephalitis and pneumonia.
“We encourage anyone who may have to travel to Europe to ensure that they are immunised against measles. If you have a relative who has travelled from Europe, you may have been exposed, and, if infected, could develop symptoms,” the statement said.
The Ministry recommended that persons call a health care provider, or go to the nearest polyclinic, in the event that symptoms arise.