PRESS RELEASE – THE Department of Health and Wellness is calling on Saint Lucians to review their immunization status and get vaccinated against measles.
Although this country has not seen a case of measles since 1990, the Ministry of Health says it is closely monitoring increased cases of the disease affecting countries in Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.
The Department of Health is asking Saint Lucians to remain vigilant given the travel ties with affected countries during the tourism season.
Acting National Epidemiologist, Dr. Michelle Francois, says it is necessary that Saint Lucians are educated about the symptoms of measles, as the disease can pose a threat to public health.
“The virus is vaccine-preventable,” she said.
“This means that individuals who are vaccinated against measles will not get it if they are in contact with an infected individual. The virus is spread through droplets of air when the infected individual coughs and talks, so persons need to be on the lookout for certain signs and symptoms,” Francois explained.
She disclosed that persons with the infection usually presents a fever, which is usually accompanied by a cough.
“There are characteristics of white spots in the mouth, redness of the eyes or conjunctivitis, as well as a rash which would appear later on in the illness; it starts on the face and moves to the rest of the body.”
The Acting National Epidemiologist noted that the Ministry of Health is being proactive and commencing sensitization and refresher courses for front line workers such as physicians, nurses, and persons at the ports, with the aim of helping in the identification and management of measles, if a case does present itself.
“We will also be working with our non-health partners such as tourism, early childhood development centers, as well as allied health because we are seeking to combine our efforts, in order to keep the population safe,” Francois state.