With a resurgent measles outbreak in the Pacific and the U.S. mainland, the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. is emphasizing the importance of getting vaccinated against the disease, not only to protect oneself but also to protect others.
Most recently, Samoa declared an outbreak of measles with seven confirmed cases. There are also ongoing measles outbreaks in the Philippines, Tonga, New Zealand, and Australia.
In the U.S. mainland, there have been 1,250 individual cases of measles confirmed in 31 states from Jan. 1 to Oct. 3, 2019.
Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by the measles virus, it occurs worldwide, and is commonly characterized by a full body rash that appears a few days after the beginning of the initial fever.
Measles can be prevented by getting the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.
CHCC believes the risk of a measles outbreak in the CNMI is low, but these events serve as a reminder to immunize yourself and your children on schedule. The MMR vaccine requires two doses, given at separate times, in order to be fully effective.
The first does is generally given when a child is 12-15 months old, and the second dose is given when the child if 4-6 years old. The two doses of the MMR vaccine must be separated by at least 28 days and adults who do not have two doses of MMR documented should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Measles symptoms appear around seven to 14 days after the initial infection. Early symptoms often include: high fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes, tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth (called Koplik spots), and rashes that commonly appear three to five days after the beginning of the initial symptoms. The rashes usually begin as flat red spots that appear on the face and hairline then spread downwards, often covering the entire body.
Although most people recover from measles, the illness can cause complications, especially in infants and young children.
Contact the CHCC’s outpatient clinics at (670) 234-8951 during business hours from Monday to Saturday, or call the CHCC operator at (670) 234-8950.