Measles: 66 cases reported of disease that presents serious danger to children

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Your baby has an extremely low risk of measles if you have him immunised with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.       Photo: BabyCentre

Sixty-six cases of measles have been notified to the Department of Health so far this year, according to information it posted recently. The disease is highly communicable and can have serious consequences, leading to blindness, swelling of the brain (encephalitis) serious diarrhoea and pneumonia. Measles can be a killer of children.

Here is a distillation of information posted by Hong Kong’s Department of Health and the World Health Organisation:

LOCAL MEASLES CASES: Forty-one males and 25 females, aged from 8 months to 49 years. A total of 29 cases were connected to the airport outbreak. All other cases involved patients having travelled during the incubation period.

PREVENTION: Vaccination is safe, effective and inexpensive. Ignore the anti-vaccination fake news on social media. In Hong Kong kids get a two-dose course. Adults should be vaccinated too unless they have certain complications. Always wash your hands before touching your mouth, nose or eyes. This is especially wise if you have been in public places touching surfaces that may have secretions on them from coughing or sneezing by infected persons. If you have been infected stay at home. Avoid contact with people of weak immunity and pregnant women.

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This photograph depicts the face of a young boy with measles, which was captured on the third day of its characteristic rash.     Photo: Centers for Disease Control

HOW MEASLES SPREADS: It is a virus that can be transmitted airborne by droplets spread by nasal or throat secretions of infected persons. Patients can pass the disease on from four days before to four days after appearance of the rash.

HOW THE DISEASE PRESENTS: Affected people suffer fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and white spots inside the mouth. This is followed three to seven days later by a red blotchy skin rash that usually spreads from the face to the rest of the body. The rash usually lasts four to seven days, but can persist for up to three weeks.

TREATMENT: There is none, but medicines can reduce symptoms and fight bacterial complications.

CASES WORLDWIDE: Deaths have been declining from 550,100 at the turn of the century to 89,780 in 2016. In that year WHO reported 7 million people infected worldwide, most of them in low-income countries with poor health infrastructure.

The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (DH) said on 29 April that no additional case of measles infection had been recorded as at 4:00 pm.

Regarding measles control measures implemented at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), a total of 16 persons had received measles vaccination at the airport vaccination station as at 6:00 pm 29 April, bringing the cumulative number of vaccinations given to 8,320.

From 30 April 30 to 17 May (excluding Sundays and public holidays), measles vaccination will be provided to airport staff who:

(1) Were born in or after 1967, and have not received two doses of measles vaccination, and have not been infected with measles before; or

(2) Have laboratory evidence of testing not positive against measles antibody (IgG).

The vaccination quota for the measles vaccination station at the airport remains at 600 doses daily. The venue and operation hours of the airport vaccination station are as follows:

Venue: Multi-function Room, HKIA Tower (Level 5, Terminal 2)
Hours: 30 April to 17 May (excluding Sundays and public holidays)
10:00 am to 1:00 pm
2:00 – 6:00 pm

As for the blood test service, the DH will continue to provide the measles serology test service to about 200 airport staff who were born on or after 1967 on 30 April and 2 and 7  May.

The venue and operation hours of the airport blood test station are as follows:

Venue: South side before the Immigration Hall at Level 3 of Terminal 2 (non-restricted area)
Hours: 30 April and 2 and 7 May
9:00 am to 1:0 pm

A pilot service at the blood test station on the same designated dates and times to provide measles serology testing for a total of about 200 Filipino foreign domestic helpers who are coming to or returning to work in Hong Kong will also be carried out.

A hotline (2125 1122) has been set up for public enquiries and operates during office hours from Mondays to Fridays. A total of 3,295 enquiries have been received so far.

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