The Ministry of Health has confirmed that despite an outbreak of the highly contagious viral disease measles in New Zealand, the Cook Islands is safe.
Community Health Services director Dr Tereapii Uka said the ministry was closely monitoring cases of measles reported in New Zealand and Australia and so far the Cook Islands had nothing to fear.
Dr Uka said this is due to the high immunisation status the country has.
He said majority of the population is well protected through immunisation.
World Health Organisation reports that measles is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms usually appear 10–12 days after infection and this includes high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
Dr Uka says the ministry has considered reviewing the immunisation schedule in the Cook Islands by reducing the first MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine to 12 months.
“We are looking to consider reviewing our immunisation schedule, to reducing the first MMR vaccine to 12-months so that we can provide protection earlier for our children between 12-15 months old.”
However, Dr Uka said this will need a lot of organisation in terms of vaccine supply and logistics.
“It is a lot of work. But we are creating awareness on the ministry website and other platforms.
At the moment there have been no cases,” Dr Uka said.
He said the last outbreak of measles was in 1990.
He added that so far there have been no threats of any sort.
The New Zealand Herald reports 18 confirmed cases of measles in Auckland as of last Friday, while five confirmed cases had been recorded in the Bay of Plenty over the past month and more cases reported in Christchurch.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), so far, in 2019, there have been 228 reported cases of measles through 12 US states. The vaccine was introduced in 1963, and is about 97 per cent effective with two doses and 93 per cent effective with just one dose.