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Jan 29, 2018

Be on the Lookout for Measles

In health news, Belize has not seen a case of measles since 1991. But there is a general alert out tonight from the Ministry of Health after the highly infectious viral disease recently showed up in neighboring Guatemala, on the heels of an increase of cases in the region in 2017. The suspected cases are said to have been imported from Germany and the United Kingdom. Last week the Ministry convened a meeting with all its public health nurses to share the information and activate an immediate heightened surveillance to follow up on any presentation of symptoms that can possibly lead to a positive measles case. We spoke this evening with Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero.

 

Aaron Humes

“First of all, is there any indication that this person has or intends to visit Belize?”

 

On the Phone: Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“No, that is not the case. But the reason why we are placing an alert and why we have been on the lookout and retraining staff from last week is because it is a highly infectious disease and we must be aware that, since we haven’t had a case since 1991, the younger generation of doctors and nurses may not even have been exposed to that, so we want to make sure that we cover our bases and we are on the alert.”

 

Aaron Humes

“And in terms of the suspicious cases from the Caribbean; again, no indication that any of these persons have or intend to visit Belize?”

 

On the Phone: Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“We don’t know if they intend to; I assume that once you are sick with measles you will go back home. In reality we are just trying to make sure that all our bases are covered. More than those specific people coming to Belize, I think what we need to be alert of is any potential person coming into Belize, with so many flights coming into the country and so many cruise ships, potentially, coming into the country as well.”

 

Belize continues to perform the MMR vaccination for measles, mumps and German rubella, but the public is advised to report to the nearest health facility if you show signs of a fever lasting at least four days; rash on the face, neck and body and any of a cough, runny nose or conjunctivitis and/or have traveled to the U.K. in the last month. Suspicious cases need to be isolated and investigated to avoid its spread. The World Health Organization recommends that every eligible child receives two doses of measles-containing vaccine. It also encourages adults who are not fully immunized, or who are not sure of their immunity status, to get vaccinated. 

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