Singaporeans infected by measles outbreak in the Philippines

They are among 80 people here have come down with measles so far this year. This is high, given that the annual numbers were 46 and 38 respectively for the past two years.

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Here is the statement from the Ministry of Health: 

Measles is a highly infectious disease that is found in many countries, including Singapore. In January 2014, the Philippines announced measles outbreaks in a number of cities in Metro Manila and in Pampanga. In Singapore, 23 cases had a travel history to the Philippines in 2014 (as of 5 April).

This is in addition to 49 local cases reported during the same period. Half of the local cases were young children who had missed their vaccination.

The best way to prevent measles is by vaccination. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination is recommended under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS). Most Singaporeans have developed immunity either from vaccination, or through natural disease. Hence, the risk of a community outbreak of measles in Singapore is low.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) advises parents to ensure that their young children receive two doses of MMR vaccination on time (first dose at 12 months and second dose at 15 to 18 months). Pre-school children who have missed their two doses of measles vaccination should also be vaccinated without delay.

Other persons in the family, who have not been vaccinated against measles are advised to be vaccinated, especially if there is a baby being cared for at home. Persons travelling to the Philippines, including Filipinos living in Singapore who return to the Philippines for a home visit, are also advised to be vaccinated, if they have not been vaccinated against measles, or not had measles before.

The MMR vaccination is available at polyclinics, private General Practitioner (GP) clinics, and private paediatric clinics (for babies and children).

FAQs FOR MEASLES

VACCINATION FOR BABIES AND CHILDREN

1. What is the routine measles vaccination schedule in Singapore?

Two doses of vaccine are recommended - the first dose at 12 months of age, followed by the second dose at 15-18 months of age. The vaccine that is used in Singapore and in other countries is the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

2. Should I vaccinate my baby against measles before 12 months of age?

MMR vaccination before 12 months of age is not routinely recommended as the vaccine is less effective under this age.

3. My child has only received one dose of MMR vaccine. Does he need the second dose of MMR vaccine?

Two doses of MMR vaccine are required for adequate protection.

VACCINATION FOR TRAVELLERS

1. Why should I be vaccinated against measles before travelling to the Philippines?

Any person who has not been vaccinated against measles, or not had measles, may come down with the disease and infect others who have no immunity against measles. The best prevention against measles is by vaccination if a person has not had measles before.

2. I am not sure if I have been vaccinated against measles before. Should I still go for vaccination?

Vaccination is not necessary if a person has had measles or has been vaccinated before. However, if you are not sure, you can consult a medical doctor for advice.

3. When should I go for vaccination prior to my trip?

Persons travelling to the Philippines, including Filipinos living in Singapore who return to the Philippines for a home visit, , are advised to be vaccinated at least 4-6 weeks prior to departure if they have not had measles before and had not been previously vaccinated against measles.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

1. What are the signs and symptoms of measles? Is it fatal?

The symptoms of measles generally begin about 7 to 14 days after a person is infected. Common symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes, and skin rash.

A red or reddish-brown rash appears three to five days after the start of symptoms. The rash begins at the face and then spreads downward to cover the whole body. After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

Most people recover completely from the disease. However, complications such as ear and lung infections and inflammation of the brain can occur.

After a person recovers from measles, he/she will have life-long protection against the disease.

2. How is measles spread?

Measles is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. A person is highly contagious for four days before, and four days after, the rash appears.

3. How can measles be prevented?

Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles.

4. How long does the protection last after vaccination?

Two doses of MMR vaccination confer life-long protection.

5. What is the cost of MMR vaccination?

The MMR vaccination is available at polyclinics, private General Practitioner (GP) clinics, and private paediatric clinics (for babies and children). Different institutions may have different pricing as their costs may differ. You may thus want to consult your healthcare provider on the charges.

For further information on measles, please refer to the measles article on HPB website at: http://hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/article?id=562

For information on recommended measles vaccination schedule for children, please visit HPB's National Immunisation Registry website at: https://www.nir.hpb.gov.sg/

For health-related enquiries, please contact MOH General Line: 6325-9220 or email moh_info@moh.gov.sg.

Source: Ministry of Health