The Ministry of Health is advising all travellers to Guyana experiencing a fever, rash and other flu-like symptoms, persons who have been in contact with visitors exhibiting those symptoms and those who have not had two doses of MMR vaccines to visit the nearest health centre to check for measles.
The ministry is advising the public to take these precautions as part of intense efforts it is undertaking to prevent the reintroduction of measles into Guyana, following a recent outbreak in the USA and in other countries.
According to a press release, indigenous measles and rubella were eliminated from Guyana and the Americas in 2002 and 2009 respectively, but remained endemic in some WHO regions. These outbreaks, occurring since 2013, pose a threat to the Caribbean sub-region including Guyana.
“Immunization coverage nationally over the last five years is reported above 97% but varies across the Regions and is lower in rural and remote areas of Guyana, with small pockets of vulnerable persons including children and adults existing,” the ministry said.
As such, all travellers to Guyana suffering with a fever and rash, along with a cough or runny nose or pink/red eye should contact a doctor or to visit the nearest health centre. Locals who may have been in contact with a visitor experiencing those symptoms are also asked to seek immediate medical attention.
Further, visitors experiencing the said symptoms are advised to avoid extensive travel around the country while ill and to avoid close contact, especially with young children (under age 5) in the household during the first seven says of the appearance of a rash. In addition, all persons (adults and children) who have not had two doses of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccines must visit the nearest health centre to be vaccinated. Persons are also advised to take along their vaccination cards to the health centres.
The ministry advises that good hand hygiene; washing, sanitising, cough etiquette (cover cough) and early medical treatment can reduce the risk of measles and other infection.
Following the recent measles outbreaks in the United States of America and Brazil, the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) earlier this month urged countries to maintain high levels of measles vaccination coverage at national and local levels.
In an epidemiological alert, PAHO/WHO said measles elimination is facing “major challenges,” while noting the ongoing importation of measles in some countries. As a result, it urged countries to strengthen measles surveillance activities and to take appropriate measures to protect residents in the Americas against measles and rubella.
PAHO/WHO said the recent outbreaks suggest immunisation rates in some areas have dropped below levels needed to prevent the spread of cases imported into the Americas.