Last Friday, the Argentine Ministry of Health released a health alert confirming at least two reported cases of measles in babies in Argentina. The affected infants—a five-month-old from the city of Buenos Aires and a sixth-month-old from the province— were not old enough to be vaccinated. Before these cases, the last recorded instance of measles in Argentina had been an eight-month-old baby last April, and then in 2010.
While the case of the five-month-old is still a mystery, an investigation by the Ministry of Health concluded that the 6-month-old had caught the disease after coming into contact with a 21-year-old unvaccinated man who had contracted measles during a trip to Thailand.
Today, the Health Ministry confirmed an additional case of measles in Argentina. Once again, the case is that of an infected baby who was too young to be vaccinated—this time a ten-month-old—from the province of Buenos Aires.
The diagnosis was “discovered during the epidemiological investigation of the previous two cases,” a statement released by Adolfo Rubinstein, Argentina’s Health Minister, read. “All three cases presented compatible symptoms (fever, rash, cough and conjunctivitis) and were confirmed by serology (positive IgM in serum) and viral genome detection by PCR.”
Once again, the government report urged people to take a number of “control measures” to protect themselves and their children from the outbreak. It also emphasized that “actions have been taken to control the outbreak” in the appropriate areas, “and research is underway to determine the source of the infection.”
To assuage the crisis, the Health Ministry has also convened a committee of measles experts in Buenos Aires. In the government report, the committee recommended that Buenos Aires residents be alert to their children presenting the following symptoms: fever, cough, conjunctivitis, watery eyes, and a rash. In this regard, the committee also stressed the importance of detecting the disease early on, both for the health of those that are infected and to prevent the rapid spread of the disease.
“It’s important to remember that measles is very contagious, both four days before and four days after the first recorded symptoms,” emphasized Angela Gentile, chair of Argentina’s National Commission for the Elimination of Measles, Rubella and Congenital Rubella Syndrome. “When a family visits a hospital or health center, mechanisms must be put in place so that they do not have long wait times in a lobby, but can be quickly identified and attended to in an area removed from other people, depending on each institution.”
New recommendations on behalf of the committee of measles experts and the Health Ministry have included: strengthening epidemiological surveillance; intensifying vaccination campaigns across the province; establishing mechanisms for rapid identifications of the disease in hospitals and health centers in the city and province of Buenos Aires; and finally, staying on track for the campaign to reinforce the widespread vaccination of children against measles and rubella already planned for next October.