There has been no report of a measles outbreak in Region One, says Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Dr. Karen Cummings.
She was at the time responding to questions from members of the media regarding claims made by Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley that there is an outbreak within the region.
“As you know there was a measles outbreak in Boa Vista, and it came from Venezuela and we know our borders being porous with Brazilians and Venezuelans coming over, but so far we have received no reports of a measles outbreak in Guyana,” the Minister said.
She further noted that the Ministry has in place preventative measures to deal with such a situation, including the administering of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine.
In addition, there is continuous monitoring of the country’s borders as the Ministry remains mindful of the situation in neighbouring Venezuela which has caused its citizens to seek refuge in bordering countries such as Guyana.
“We had some malaria sometime in Region One and Seven, but not of measles right now; but we have that under control, because the Vector Control Department is working assiduously to ensure that persons have their impregnated nets, repellents and ensure they follow the safety precautions,” she added.
Sunday Stabroek understands that reports reaching the Regional Chairman have indicated cases of measles in White Water and Baramita, both of which are border communities.
According to the World Health Organization’s website, measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus in the Paramyxovirus family, and it is normally passed through direct contact and through the air.
The virus infects the respiratory tract, then spreads throughout the body. Measles is a human disease and is not known to occur in animals. The first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage.
After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days, and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of 7 to 18 days).
Most measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease. Serious complications are more common in children under the age of five (5), or adults over the age of 30.
It was also noted that before the introduction of measles vaccine in 1963 and widespread vaccination, major epidemics occurred approximately every 2–3 years, and measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.
Nevertheless, the disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 89,780 people died from measles in 2016 – mostly children under the age of five years.