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U.S. Virgin Islands Health Department Prepares For Measles Outbreak

CHRISTIANSTED — Physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers on St. Croix are advised of an important training update on measles to be held at the Juan F. Luis Hospital at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.

Doctors and other health care providers, including school nurses or administrators, are strongly urged to attend so that the health care response to this potential threat is unified throughout the territory.

According to the information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 839 cases of measles occurred in 23 states between January 1 and May 10 of this year.

Of these cases 752 occurred among unvaccinated individuals or persons with an unknown vaccination status. Importantly, the median age of cases is five years (range one day to 72 years), and 56 percent of cases are in people aged 16 months to 19 years. A total of 76 people (or nine percent of the total cases) required hospitalization.

MMR vaccinations for children are available locally at the Maternal Child Health facilities at either the Charles Harwood Interim Complex (St. Croix) or the Elainco Building (St. Thomas). Adult vaccinations are available at the Community Health Clinic of the Department of Health.

The Virgin Islands Department of Health uses a sliding fee scale for vaccinations with most infant and child immunizations rendered free at most public health clinics.

A similar meeting on measles was conducted by the Health Department on St. Thomas last week.

The following list of providers offer the MMR vaccine (adults only):

–St. Thomas

• Dr. Luis Amaro (Foothills Professional Building)

• Dr. Carolyn Jones (Al Cohen Plaza)

• Red Hook Family Practice

• Yacht Haven Family Practice

• St. Thomas East End Medical Center

• Caricare Family Health Services (Paragon Building)

• Dr. Jessica Wilson (Paragon Building)

–St. John

• Cruz Bay Family Practice

–St. Croix

• Frederiksted Healthcare (Frederiksted and Mid-Island locations)

• Dr. Arakere Prasad, Primary Care PLLC (Princess)

Measles complications include diarrhea, otitis media (eye problems), pneumonia (in one to six percent of cases), encephalitis (one case per 1,000 cases) and death (one to three per 1,000 cases).

Cases of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, a rare form of chronic progressive brain inflammation, are also noted to occur in one out of 100,000 cases about seven to 10 years after having a measles episode.

The Virgin Islands Department of Health, together with the St. Thomas East End Medical Center and Schneider Regional Medical Center, provided a Clinical Measles Update to healthcare providers in the St. Thomas/St. John district last week.

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