If you are traveling abroad for the upcoming school holidays, make sure you are protected before you travel.
Measles is a highly contagious disease especially harmful for young children. There are outbreaks in Europe and in North America. It spreads through coughing and sneezing. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90 per cent of the people around the person will also become infected if they are not protected by already being vaccinated.
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.
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 rash starts first behind the ears and the forehead and spreads to the rest of the body. Symptoms are, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and a rash of tiny red spots and high fever. Measles can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
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.
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 month of July for the summer school holidays to take preventive measures and to make sure their vaccinations are up to date for the entire family.
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.
People at high risk for measles include children less than 1 year of age and people who have not received the proper vaccination series.
General travel advice is that you make sure you are in good health, your vaccinations are up to date, take care of proper hygiene, eat healthy, and stay away from sick people.
Seek medical attention immediately if you or your child develops symptoms upon return from your summer holiday travels or travelling to Sint Maarten from countries with documented measle cases and request that the necessary information is passed on to CPS to ensure proper follow-up and documentation.
The CPS says it is important to be up to date on vaccinations, including before traveling abroad.
For more information call CPS at 542-3003, 542-3553, 542-1122 or 542-1222.