CHCC: No measles outbreak in the CNMI


An ongoing measles outbreak in the southern part of the Philippines has the CNMI Division of Public Health on full alert, letting the public know of this concern. Luckily for the CNMI, there has been no report of a measles outbreak in the CNMI to date.

Many residents in the CNMI are of Filipino descent and frequently travel to and from the Philippines and this includes CW-1 workers and tourists.

In a press release, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. said it continues to encourage the community to stay up-to-date with all required vaccinations.

Children should receive their first dose of the measles vaccine, called MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), at 12-15 months old and a second dose of MMR at 4-6 years old. The vaccine is highly effective in preventing measles.

The Department of Health, Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit in the Philippines reported that, as of Jan. 29, 2018, there were 317 suspected cases of measles in the country. Fourteen cases from Jan. 1, 2017, to Jan. 19, 2018, were recorded as suspected measles-related deaths.

It added that most of the cases reported last year increased in November and December 2017.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services in Guam also warned the public last week of the measles outbreak in the Philippines.

According to Immunization program manager Jeremy Sasamoto of the Communicable Disease Bureau of the Division of Public Health, measles is a disease prevalent in the Asia Pacific region.

“Measles prevention…is one of the many reasons why parents should ensure their children are vaccinated on time,” he said. “A disease anywhere is a threat everywhere and it only takes one person to bring measles and other dangerous communicable diseases into the CNMI.”

The vaccination program of the CNMI Division of Public Health Immunization Program has vaccinated over 1,000 children in the CNMI in both public and private schools.

In an earlier interview, Sasamoto said the vaccination program is based on Public Law 6-10, which requires all children to be up-to-date with required immunizations prior to enrollment in any school or daycare/childcare facility in the CNMI.

“These vaccinations include the MMR vaccine,” Sasamoto said. “One person on a plane with measles can sneeze or cough and spread the disease to everyone on that plane and, in turn, they can spread that disease to people working in the airport, hotels, stores, etc., then they bring it home, then their kids bring it to schools, etc. It only takes one person to do all of this and we’re doing all we can to ensure our community is protected.”

CHCC asks the public that if they are traveling abroad and have not received the measles vaccination, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children 12 months or older and adolescents receive two doses of MMR 28 days apart. If traveling with an infant 6-11 months old, they will need one dose before traveling.

Immunization records can be obtained from the immunization program at CHCC.

The initial symptoms of measles, which usually appear 10-12 days after infection, includes high fever (101˚F or higher), runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth.

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.  

CHCC also raised the concern that if one is a returning traveler from the Philippines and develop both a fever and rash, to see a medical provider immediately.

For more information, contact the immunization program at (670) 236-8745 or 236-8709/83/81 or ask your provider.

Bea Cabrera | Correspondent
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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