#Providenciales, February 1, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – The Ministry of Health wishes to advise the public to remain alert for the symptoms and signs of measles. While there are no cases of measles in the Turks and Caicos, we are in the winter tourist season and during this time, it is easy for measles to be imported from other regions which still have very high incidences of cases.
Measles is a highly infectious disease which is accompanied by a rash with fever and at least one of the following three symptoms: coryza (runny nose), cough and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The rash starts behind the ears and then spreads to the head and neck, followed by the rest of the body. Other symptoms include small greyish white spots with a bluish-white center inside the mouth, cheek and throat and body aches. It is spread through droplets in the air which are generated by the coughs and sneezes of infected persons. The period when a person is infectious and can spread the virus is within 7 to 10 days of exposure, but can be up to 14 days. Possible complications of measles include the following; hospitalization, inflammation of the eyes and ears, encephalitis (brain swelling), pneumonia and death.
The number one way of preventing measles is through vaccination with the measles, mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The vaccine is safe and highly effective. It is offered free of cost at all primary health care facilities within the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Turks and Caicos Islands has maintained high immunization coverage, over 90%, in the MMR vaccine. The last reported case of measles in the TCI was in 1991. Although, we have good immunity in the TCI, persons who are not protected are at an increased risk of contracting the virus. This includes persons who have never been vaccinated and those who have not completed their 2-dose schedule. The TCI welcomes over one million visitors annually from all over the world; this places the country at risk for importation and re-introduction of measles.
To be considered fully protected against measles, individuals must have two doses of the MMR vaccine. The TCI offers this at ages 1 and 2 years. Parents who are uncertain about their child’s immunization status should bring their take-home vaccine cards into any primary care clinic to have it checked. Persons who are uncertain of their immunization status may also visit the clinic to determine their status and be vaccinated if necessary. If you are concerned that you might have been exposed, please contact your health care provider.
For more information please contact the Primary Health Care Department Public Health Nurse’s on the following telephone numbers; 338-5474; 338-5470 or 946-5613 or, you may contact your local health care provider.
Help us keep TCI measles free!
Release: TCIG Ministry of Health