The global measles problem

by Dr Donna Robinson
Measles vaccination

Welcome back to Bangkok and welcome to Thailand to new families and individuals! It’s an exciting time of year. Everyone is getting ready to return to school, to begin university, to get back into their normal work routine. It is an incredible time to meet new people and to reconnect with friends who may have travelled over the summer months or stayed in Bangkok. Socially, this is great. However, from a healthcare perspective, this can really be quite troublesome.
Not only are common colds and the flu likely to spread should one individual have them, we have a new problem on the rise around the world >> Measles.

According to Unicef, 98 countries reported an increase in measles cases in 2018. Measles is a highly contagious viral illness, that can prove life threatening. It’s airborne, spread through the tiny droplets exhaled from the nose and mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes. With just one cough from an infected individual able to infect 9 in 10 people within two hours, you can begin to see how contagious measles really is. An individual can be contagious up to four days before the rash occurs up until around 3-4 days after the rash has been present.

With school children playing together or being in classrooms all day, it’s incredibly easy for airborne bugs to spread. So far, having just enough people vaccinated in a given country has kept it at bay but with more people travelling and in highly-crowded areas (i.e. schools, universities, airports), this may not last too long. And as we have seen, Measles is indeed on the rise again, particularly in countries such as the USA, France, NZ and here in Thailand.

Measles outbreak

Anyone who has not received two doses of the MMR vaccine is at risk. In children, the vaccination schedule is as simple as two injections of the combined MMR vaccine (Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine). The first dose is given at the age of 1 and the second dose between the ages of 4-6 years old. The MMR vaccine is available at the MedConsult Clinic for only 671B.

The latest vaccination available MMRV (MMR + Varicella) vaccine is also now available here at MedConsult. This provides lifetime immunity against Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Chickenpox (Varicella) with two doses provided at 1 year and between 4-6 years. If you are an adult who has not had the MMR vaccinations, the WHO recommends that you are vaccinated. Although, measles predominately affects young people aged between 20-40 years and often presents more severely in this age group. The vaccination schedules involve two injection schedule given 4 weeks apart from each other, and you can have these at any age.

It seems like you’re getting needles every other day as a kid, so many of us just assume we’re immune to most vaccine-preventable diseases. Because both doses are given before the age of 6, it can be quite difficult remembering whether you, or whether your child, actually had two doses.

Measles vaccination

In the shadow of the current outbreak, that’s got a few people wondering: what if I wasn’t vaccinated?
For people who don’t know their status or just want to make sure they’re protected, the simplest thing to do is just to get another dose of vaccine. If you’re immune from having had the vaccine or having had the disease, then your immunity stops any of those viruses from multiplying and you don’t have increased risk of fever or other things.

There is a laboratory test that can be done to determine if you have immunity or not. For MMR immunity, this involves three tests (to test immunity of Measles, Mumps and Rubella separately). The important thing is, don’t hesitate and get in contact today if you aren’t sure whether your MMR immunity, or your child’s MMR immunity, is up-to-date. Please feel free to email us ( [email protected] ), give us a call 02-018-7855, book an appointment and quote Expat
Life in Thailand (medconsultasia.com) or simply walk-in to MedConsult today and tell us Nick sent you, to make sure you’re all up-to-date on your vaccines or to get vaccinated.

Dr Donna Robinson (MBBS, MRCP, MRCGP, DRCOG, Dip Occ Medicine, Thai Medical Licence)

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