The Ministry of Health (Minsa) has declared the second case of measles this month in Peru, after nearly 17 years with no reported cases of the disease in the country.
Spanish-language news site El Comercio revealed that the most recent case, made public yesterday, was a 16-year-old in the city of Juliaca, in the Puno region. The first case was a 46-year-old man from Callao on March. 2, but who visited Puno in February. Although both cases have been controlled, Minsa have declared a state of alert.
Minsa has dispatched over 200 health groups so far in Callao and Puno, vaccinating over 1,300 children. Minsa also announced that all health centres have free vaccinations available for measles, rubella, chicken pox and mumps, and stressed the importance of vaccinations for children. Health Minister Abel Salinas spoke on behalf of Minsa, saying that children’s health marks the development of the society and population, again appealing to parents to get their children vaccinated.
Minsa has recommended that anyone in the Puno or Callao area showing symptoms of the measles should immediately go to the closest health centre so they can be cared for properly and to avoid the spread of the disease.
Symptoms of the disease include fever and a red, blotchy rash on the skin, as well as a cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes and a sore throat. However, symptoms often don’t appear until 7-18 days after contraction of the illness. Measles is very contagious, and transferable via respiratory tracts, through coughing, or secretions from the nose. There is no current treatment for the disease, and complications can include pneumonia or encephalitis. More information on the disease can be found on Minsa’s information page.
Since the alert has been announced, America TV disclosed that there have been 28 suspicious cases, 15 of which have been dismissed, and 13 of which have been kept in for further investigation. El Comercio also mentions that the Regional Health Management of Puno have visited over 5000 houses so far without finding any cases.
Peru has a well-developed vaccination system that has dozens of obligatory vaccinations, however, so far, measles is not one of them. In 2016, 90,000 people died of measles, which, according to the Vaccine Knowledge Project, equates to 250 deaths a day. Although this is the first time the number has dipped below 100,000, it is still important for countries to establish a vaccination system to avoid unnecessary deaths from these extremely contagious diseases.