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SASTM Newsflash - Measles update


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UK (Merseyside)


Health chiefs say last year's [2012] worrying measles outbreak is now being brought under control as the MMR catch-up programme continues at pace. In St Helens, there were just 2 confirmed cases in the 1st 6 months of this year -- in January and March 2013 -- compared to 13 in the same period in 2012.


But, as part of the catch-up programme, NHS (National Health Service) GPs are still offering catch-up vaccinations to teenagers who missed out on their 1st or 2nd childhood MMR. This is crucial for teenagers and young adults, especially those starting work or for women thinking of starting a family. The aim is to offer MMR to as many 10-16 year olds as possible who missed out on one or 2 doses, and to get to 95 percent protection in teenagers.


Dr Sam Ghebrehewet, the health protection lead for PHE Cheshire and Merseyside, said: "While it's too early to say the MMR catch-up campaign is responsible for the declining number of measles cases, we can say definitively that children who have not had the MMR vaccine remain at high risk of catching the disease. We are making good progress towards the 95 per cent target, but there still remains a number of 10-16 year olds within the area, together with some younger children and adults who remain under-vaccinated. We'd urge parents of children, and teenagers themselves, who haven't had the MMR vaccine to get them vaccinated. The whole measles story shows us how important childhood vaccination programmes are. Every parent needs to make sure that children are offered all their childhood vaccines."


[The catch-up campaign is clearly succeeding, but the aim of 95 percent coverage has still to be achieved.St Helens is located in a densely populated area of Lancashire in the north of England]


Kenya (Teso)


Ministry of Health officials in Teso South have raised fears over the outbreak of measles in the area. The area District Medical Officer for Health, Festus Kigen, made the startling revelation yesterday [22 Aug 2013] while announcing that 32 088 children were vaccinated against polio in Teso South. Kigen said 4 cases of suspected measles had been reported in the area with samples taken to Nairobi medical laboratory to confirm whether the outbreak is real. He said measles and polio are related owing to the fact that they affect children who have not undergone immunisation since they were born.


Kigen warned parents to be wary of measles symptoms, like high fever, red eyes and running nose. "Children with such cases should be reported to the nearest health facility for immediate attention," Kigen said while addressing the press in his office.


Kigen said the polio campaign in the area was 102 percent[?] successful, with Chakol Division registering the highest number [of cases?], 18 576, while Amukura recorded 13 512 [cases].

[Clearly, the poliovirus immunisation programme has priority, and resources for comprehensive measles vaccination are lacking.]


Nigeria (Katsina)


Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) announced on Tuesday [13 Aug 2013?] that a measles outbreak in Nigeria's Katsina state is over, after 28 weeks and more than 36 000 infections. MSF supported Nigerian authorities throughout the outbreak by providing case management and epidemiological surveillance in Katsina's 34 local government areas. The organization began supporting the Nigerian outbreak in February 2013.


The outbreak started in December [2012] in the southern part of Katsina during the dry season. The outbreak subsequently spread to all 34 provinces. During the 28-week outbreak, 36 428 people were infected with measles, and 198 people died. MSF supported the Nigerian Ministry of Health by regularly visiting 300 health facilities and donating treatments for 14 290 measles cases, including 420 cases designated as complicated.


As a result of a measles vaccine shortage in Nigeria, only 10 percent of the vaccines needed to conduct a mass vaccination campaign were allocated to the state. In March 2013, MSF further supported authorities by conducting a mass vaccination campaign in 5 of the 34 local government areas. During the campaign, approximately 217 500 children aged 6 months to 5 years received vaccinations. The number of cases declined in the 5 areas of the campaign.


MSF also screened 215 038 children aged 6 months to 5 years for malnutrition, determining that the severe acute malnutrition rate was 1.8 percent, and the global acute malnutrition rate was 6 percent. Epicentre, MSF's epidemiological research branch, conducted a malnutrition and vaccination coverage survey to thoroughly analyze the situation. Results from the survey are expected by the end of August 2013.


Measles is highly contagious and is spread through the air after a measles-infected person coughs or sneezes. People who have not been vaccinated are at the highest risk. Most people in this area have been vaccinated, officials said, so the risk to the general public is low. After someone is exposed, illness usually develops in 7 to 14 days. In rare cases, it can take up to up to 21 days for symptoms to occur. For this particular exposure, public health officials expect the onset of symptoms in newly infected people by 7 Sep 2013 at the latest.


Australia (Queensland)


A renewed measles warning has been issued for Brisbane residents after a 2nd case was reported to Queensland Health. Last week, Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said people should have shown symptoms by 18 Aug 2013 if they had contracted the virus after an infectious Victorian visited Sunnybank, Fairfield and Brisbane airport in late July 2013.


This 2nd case, who is believed to have been exposed to the Victorian person, was infectious between 9-17 Aug 2013 and used Brisbane's public transport system extensively, visiting Boondall, Rochedale, Underwood, Springwood, Brisbane City and Fortitude Valley.


Close contacts of this case are being contacted by Queensland Health, but acting senior director of the Department of Health Communicable Diseases Unit, Dr Stephen Lambert, said a large number of other people could have been exposed to the disease. He said further cases could present anywhere in Queensland, especially in the South East, over the next few weeks.


"True measles is a serious viral infection that causes fever, cough, runny nose, then a red spotty rash and sore eyes a few days later," Dr Lambert said. "Measles occasionally has dangerous complications, with up to 1/3rd of young adults with measles ending up being treated in hospital. Anybody who has or knows someone who has these symptoms should make an appointment to visit their GP immediately and advise them that you possibly have measles."


[It is expected that a large number of people could have been exposed to the particular case, and it is predicted that further cases could present anywhere in Queensland, especially in the South East, over the next few weeks.]


Communicated by: ProMED-mail




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The content and opinions are neither pre-screened nor endorsed by the SASTM. The content should neither be interpreted nor quoted as inherently accurate or authoritative.

The information provided in SASTM Newsflashes is collected from various news sources, health agencies and government agencies. Although the information is believed to be accurate, any express or implied warranty as to its suitability for any purpose is categorically disclaimed. In particular, this information should not be construed to serve as medical advice for any individual. The health information provided is general in nature, and may not be appropriate for all persons. Medical advice may vary because of individual differences in such factors as health risks, current medical conditions and treatment, allergies, pregnancy and breast feeding, etc. In addition, global health risks are constantly evolving and changing. International travelers should consult a qualified physician for medical advice prior to departure.

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