GREAT BAY — Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Considering circulated news about various infectious and vaccine preventable diseases internationally and regionally, citizens are requested to take preventive actions.
There have been international reports and information about the increase of measles and serogroup W invasive meningococcal disease (IMD).
It is advised to take precaution prior travel make sure you and your child vaccination status is up to date and during your vaccination adhere to preventive actions such as avoiding sick persons, properly washing hands, complying with cough etiquettes and food safety.
Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus [muh-ning-goh-KOK-us]. These illnesses are often severe and can be deadly. They include infections of the brain membrane and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).
These bacteria spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing).
The meningococcal bacteria spread to other people by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact to spread these bacteria.
People can catch them through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been. Those at increased risk of getting sick include: People who live with the patient; and anyone with direct contact with the patient’s oral secretions, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Between epidemiological week (EW) 1 and EW 22 of 2018, 11 countries reported 1,685 confirmed cases of measles in the Region of the Americas. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recommends that all travelers over 6-months-of-age who cannot show proof of vaccination or immunity, that they receive the measles and rubella vaccine, preferably the triple viral vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella – MMR), at least two weeks before traveling to areas where measles transmission has been documented.
Measles is caused by the measles virus (a paramyxovirus). Measles is spread through droplet transmission from the nose, throat, and mouth of someone who is infected with the virus.
These droplets are sprayed out when the infected person coughs or sneezes. Among unimmunized people exposed to the virus, over 90% will contract the disease. Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that is easily spread from person to person, especially in those without previous vaccination.
The infected person is highly contagious for four days before the rash appears until four days after the rash appears. The measles virus can remain in the air (and still be able to cause disease) for up to two hours after an infected person has left a room.
Anyone who has had measles is believed to be immune for life. People who have received two doses of vaccine after their first birthday have a 98% likelihood of being immune. Infants receive some immunity from their mother.
Unfortunately, this immunity is not complete, and infants are at increased risk for infection until they receive the vaccination at 12 to 15 months of age. People at high risk for measles include children less than 1 year of age (although they have some immunity passed from their mother, it is not 100% effective); people who have not received the proper vaccination series; people who received immunoglobulin at the time of measles vaccination; people immunized from 1963 until 1967 with an older ineffective killed measles vaccine.
The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is calling on families who plan to travel during the July and August summer school holidays to take preventive measures and to make sure their vaccinations are up to date for the entire family.
Maintain healthy habits, like getting plenty of rest and not having close contact with people who are sick.
Seek medical attention immediately if you or your child develops symptoms upon return from your summer holiday travels.
For more information call CPS at 542-3003, 542-3553, 542-1122 or 542-1222.
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