The National Measles Immunization Campaign has begun across Oman, including in Muscat where it was inaugurated by Saud bin Hilal al Busaidi, Minister of State and the Governor of Muscat.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children. Globally it remains one of the leading causes of death among young children under the age of five. Outbreaks of Measles in Europe, America, Asia and Africa are noticed in 2017.
Oman has very few cases of Measles since 1995. However, in 2016 national Communicable diseases surveillance noted the increase number of measles cases, a total of 114 cases, despite near 100% coverage of target population with Measles Vaccine (MMR). The clusters of measles in 2016 resulted probably due to importation related source of infection. In addition, 89 cases have been reported up to August 2017 from different governorate.
Person suffers from Measles 7 to 18 days after exposure to case of Measles. Person suffering from Measles develops fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, in addition a widespread skin rash is a classic sign of measles. This rash generally appears within the first 3-5 days of exposure to the virus and can last up to 7 days. Rash of measles appears as red, itchy bumps, commonly develops on the head and slowly spreads to other parts of the body.
Measles virus is highly contagious and it spreads by an infected person from 4 days prior to the onset of the rash to 4 days after the rash erupts via
- Coughing and sneezing
- Close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions
- The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to 2 hours
Persons at risk of developing Measles are, 1) Unvaccinated young children are at the highest risk for measles and its complications, including death 2) Unvaccinated pregnant women and c) any person who is not immune to measles
Measles can lead to life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) Other complications associated with measles may include a) Ear infection b) Bronchitis c) Miscarriage or preterm labor d) Decrease in blood platelets e) Blindness and f) Severe diarrhea
The measles vaccine has been in use for over 50 years. It is safe, effective and inexpensive.
The measles vaccine is often incorporated with rubella and mumps vaccines as (MMR). Routine Measles vaccination is recommended to prevent measles disease, MMR doses are given at 12 months and 18 months of age to all children in Oman.
The Measles vaccine is not recommended for persons suffering from any serious diseases like cancer or immunity deficiency diseases. It is also not recommended for pregnant women.
Mass Measles vaccination campaign is one of the most effective tool for vaccinating any individuals susceptible for Measles. Once susceptibles are vaccinated, chains of transmission of Measles disease is expected to be interrupted and therefore cases are expected to reduce.
Oman had experienced large outbreak of Measles cases during 1993, where 3108 cases were reported, following which National Measles Immunization campaign was carried out in 1994, which helped in reducing cases in subsequent years.
Why only 20-35 age group?
National authorities have decided to vaccinate 20-35 age group of persons because of,
1) Most cases in last two years are noted in the age group of 20-35. 2) Findings of research among representative groups in Oman are suggesting immunity levels are less in the age group of 20-35.
How you can protect yourself?
- Ensure all children are protected by routine Measles vaccination at 12 months and 18 months of age through MMR vaccine, made available in Oman to citizens and residents.
- Anyone in the age group of 20-35 (born between 1982 to 1997), is requested to get vaccinated, free of cost, between 10-16 September 2017, irrespective of previous vaccination status at nearest vaccination site.
You can prevent the spread of the Measles and other infections by following:
- The infected person does not go to school/work/crowded places during the illness
- Wash hands with soap and water frequently
- Cover the mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing