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Vol.19 No.0322 Friday Edition, March 22, 2019
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Doctors confirm that two of nine U.S. children have measles


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff 
 
The Ministry of Health confirmed that medical examinations were positive for measles for two of the nine U.S. children residing with their parents in Cóbano in Puntarenas*.

"The tests carried out by the laboratory showed positive results for two of the children who until yesterday were suspected of measles," said doctors. The children are ages seven and nine.
 
The National Board of Children, know as PANI,  will intervene with the entire family during the measles incubation period, keeping them in isolation.

The authorities confirmed that the minors were not vaccinated and, in addition, do not attend any educational center.
 
The National Board of Children agreed that they will wait for the medical treatment of the family to end in order to carry out an intervention. The reason that the investigation continues is that the doctors had reported that the children do have not had any of the vaccinations required by law and none of them attend school.

The case of this family of 11 members, parents and their nine children, was published yesterday in A.M. Costa Rica.

Due to security policies regarding the privacy of patients, the names of the children and their parents will not be published.

The Ministry report states that the parents have nine children who have not been vaccinated against the disease. The children are not registered in any school and so are presumed to be home-schooled so the risk that they have infected other children is low.

"The children could have acquired the virus from a U.S. citizen woman who recently visited the family and had measles symptoms, and she has left the country," said Daniel Salas, Minister of Health. "It is worth clarifying that there is no relationship between these four new suspected cases and the latest cases" involving a French tourist family.

The children, who were treated at the Social Security Cóbano Clinic, have had a fever since March 15 and skin breakouts since March 18.

Doctors report that the results of the rest of the family members blood tests will be received in the next hours.

Given this situation, the Ministry of Health, together with Social Security, activated the protocol established in these cases:

1. Isolation was ordered, medical attention in the home for the eleven members of the family: father, mother and nine children, of whom four are those who present a suspected case of measles.

2. All the medical tests have already been carried out. The samples are in the process of delivering the results in the next hours.

3. The specialists are investigating the possible contacts that the children had with other people in the community.

4. They will review the basic vaccinations, which have or are still pending in children. Based on this study, it will proceed to apply the vaccines that are pending, if necessary.

Doctors are calling on health authorities to remind caregivers that children need a complete vaccination scheme (two doses for measles, one year and three months and on admission to school).

In case any person has the following symptoms: fever, nasal congestion, cough, conjunctivitis, skin rash that starts on the head and expands through the body towards the feet, reaching the hips around the second day, you must go immediately to the clinic in your area.

The last case of measles infection was from a family of French tourists.

The parents and 5-year-old son, who arrived in the country on February 18, were reportedly infected with the disease in France.

They entered the country with measles and spent one week in isolation at the Monseñor Sanabria hospital in Puntarenas* on February 26.

The report in that case showed that the child and his mother had not been vaccinated against the virus and the father did not have a complete vaccination record. The parents stated that some of their son’s classmates had measles.



A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo

The children could have acquired the virus from a U.S. citizen woman who recently visited the family and had measles symptoms, and she has left the country.





The family had remained in isolation for the standard seven day period set by national and international precautionary standards to prevent the spread of the virus. Social Security activated the isolation protocol because there are not native cases of transmission of the measles virus.

Dr. Catalina Ramírez, of Social Security, said that the disease does not exist in the country and because it is highly contagious the measure of isolation was essential. "The isolation occurs in a safe area from the point of view of the transmission of the disease," she said.
 
The French family was placed, "in a closed room with ventilation, negative pressure, restricted access and medical care that maintained all the biosafety protocols," said Dr. Ramirez.

Dr. Randall Álvarez, director of the Monseñor Sanabria Hospital, said that adjustments had to be made in the cubicle so that it could contain two adult beds and a crib for the child in the isolation room of the hospital’s pediatric service.

Social Security has not reported the costs of the week-long medical service provided to the French family but did confirm that the government will cover the child’s expenses under the Code of Childhood and Adolescence. The international insurance company Europ Assistance France will pay the cost of care for the parents.

According to Dr. Ramírez "measles is considered the most contagious disease worldwide, with a transmissible rate of 90 percent, means that of 10 unvaccinated people exposed to the virus, 9 have the possibility of getting sick."

The virus spreads easily through the air through drops coming from the nose, mouth or pharynx due to coughs and sneezes of infected people and the ability of the virus to replicate is high.

Dr. Leandra Abarca, a coordinator of the Immunization Program, said that 108 people who came in contact with the infected family were vaccinated. They included Costa Ricans, hospital employees, and passengers on the plane from France.

While there is an international transmission of the virus, there is a high risk of getting measles. Doctors are calling on Costa Ricans to have their children vaccinated. Social Security will maintain the ‘extraordinary day of vaccination against measles’ until March 31.

The vaccination campaign is aimed at all children between 15 months and 9 years.

According to Social Security, 770 thousand doses of vaccines were purchased with an investment that reached $1.2 million.




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Did you know that children's vaccinations are free in Costa Rica? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com

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