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British Virgin Islands trying to prevent measles outbreak

June 7, 2024

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, CMC –  Health officials in the British Overseas territory say they are taking proactive steps to avoid a measles outbreak in the territory.

According to the acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronald Georges, proactive measures are being taken amid the recent discovery of two measles cases in the Turks and Caicos Islands in early May.

“On May 21, we held initial meetings with public sector paediatricians, public health nurses, and infection control practitioners to plan a response strategy. 

An additional meeting was held on May 31 with the Education and Social Development departments to address concerns around measles and communicable diseases in schools and daycares,” Georges said.

He added that health officials are set to meet on June 11 to focus on clinical presentations, information about treatment and complications of measles, public health requirements, immunisation, infection control, surveillance and reporting protocols that have been put in place.

The session will also be simulcast via a live on government’s official Facebook page.

“The introduction of measles in the region is concerning and the outbreak in the Turks and Caicos Islands is a wakeup call to the entire region,”  Georges stated.  

He added that compounded risk will come due to the upcoming cricket World Cup, which will bring thousands of visitors to the region including from regions with poor immunisation coverage.

The MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine is known to be 95% effective in preventing clinical measles and 92 per cent effective in preventing secondary cases among household contacts.

Measles is an extremely infectious disease with a single case potentially giving rise to 15 to 20 secondary cases. 

Measles once plagued many Caribbean countries, but governments throughout the region have largely eradicated it.

Despite the progress in controlling the disease, there are occasionally small outbreaks in the region.

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