Ministry of Health focuses on dengue fever and measles

Measles

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • CARPHA warns of outbreak of dengue fever
  • Ministry of Heath focuses on possible outbreak of measles in the region

Following reports by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) of an outbreak of mosquito-borne, dengue fever, the Ministry of Health took proactive steps to ensure that mosquito breeding sites are eliminated. The ministry has tackled this issue and has now shifted focus to another imminent threat, the possible outbreak of measles in the region.

Back in 2018, countries in Europe and the UK have already felt the impact of such an outbreak. In North America particularly in Washington DC, since 1 January, 22 people including 20 children have become infected with the disease.

The highly contagious infectious disease caused by the measles virus can cause symptoms in an infected person within 10–12 days after exposure and can last between 7 and 10 days. Symptoms typically include fever, often greater than 40°C (104°F), cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes.

The Caribbean has managed to stay measles-free for more than 25 years since reporting its last case of measles. However, the risk of such a virus being imported into Grenada is all too real, since countries which have already reported an outbreak are the region’s traditional tourism markets.

Chief Medical Officer Dr George Mitchell said the ministry has heightened surveillance for the importation of measles at various ports of entry. He said the ministry’s surveillance unit headed by Dr Shawn Charles has already started vaccinating frontline workers at various ports of entry.

“Our immunisation and vaccination programmes against measles are quite robust. We have about a 95% coverage, so we don’t anticipate an outbreak should there be an imported case, but we are not taking any chances.”

Dr Mitchell said it was important to focus on the nation’s ports of entry since it is there that an outbreak of infection can start. “Frontline workers, of course, because If someone is coming in at the airport with measles, those are the people that are at risk of being infected, so staff at the airport, taxi drivers and hotel staff are being encouraged to ensure that their vaccination status is up to mark.”

Last week staff at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) who were unsure of their status, received their vaccination.

Meanwhile, the ministry is still on the alert for dengue fever and continues proactive efforts to rid mosquito breeding sites. “We have deployed our troops in known areas with high mosquito vector indices to make strategic interventions using larvicide, and where necessary doing some fogging.”

Important to ensuring the success of eliminating mosquito breeding sites, the ministry appeals to the public to ensure that they prevent mosquitoes from reproducing.

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