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(SNO) — Although Saint Lucia has been free of the local transmission of measles since 1990, the Department of Health and Wellness is asking residents to keep a sharp eye because of the island’s travel ties with countries affected by the disease.
In a statement, Acting Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Michelle Francois, stated that Saint Lucians must be educated on measles.
“The virus is vaccine-preventable, meaning that individuals who are vaccinated against measles will not get it if they are in contact with an infected individual,” she explained.
She stated that the virus that causes measles is spread through droplets of air when the infected individual coughs or talks.
“And so, persons have to be on the look out for certain signs and symptoms,” she noted.
Dr. Francois said people with measles normally has a fever, which is usually accompanied by a cough.
“There are characteristic white spots in the mouth, reddening of the eyes or conjuctivitis, as well as a rash which would appear later on in the illness” she stated. “It starts on the face and moves to the rest of the body.”
She stated that although no local transmission has been reported since 1990, the Ministry of Health is still proactive and is initiating refresher courses for front-line workers, such as doctors and nurses and workers on the port, on the disease.
She noted that the course is aimed at helping or sensitising these workers to assist in identifying and managing cases of the disease if it surfaces.
Dr. Francios pointed out that the Ministry of Health will also be working “with our non-health partners such as tourism, early childhood development centers and others, in order to be united and combine efforts to keep the population safe”.
Saint Lucians are now being called upon by the Department of Health and Wellnes to review their immunization status and to get vaccinated.