Parents and guardians are being urged to ensure that they and their children are adequately immunised against measles, mumps and rubella with the MMR vaccine.
The advisory from the Ministry of Health comes as health officials investigate a suspected case of measles that was imported into Antigua and Barbuda by a visitor from the United Kingdom.
In 2016, the Region of the Americas, including Antigua and Barbuda was certified as being free of measles.
Dr. Rhonda Sealey-Thomas, the chief medical officer, said that residents should ensure that Antigua and Barbuda retains its measles-free status by ensuring that they are properly vaccinated.
“We need parents to check to see that your children have the correct dosage of the MMR, the measles, mumps rubella vaccine. Take your card and your child to the nearest health centre so the nurses there can check and ensure that your child is properly vaccinated or if they need another dosage,” Sealey-Thomas said.
Adults are also being encouraged to check with their physician if they are unsure about their vaccination status.
Measles is a highly contagious disease which is characterised by high fever, cough, runny nose and a red rash which starts on the face and spreads to the body. It is caused by a virus and is spread through coughing and sneezing.
There is no specific treatment. However, the measles vaccine that is administered as part of a country’s vaccination programme provides lifelong protection against the disease.
People who are not vaccinated face a higher risk of getting the viral infection.
According to Dr. Sealey-Thomas, the suspected case was reported by the doctor who treated the patient.
She said that the patient is now isolated and people who travelled with her, will be quarantined and monitored to see whether or not they are affected.
The ministry of health will also ensure that they are properly vaccinated.
Samples were taken from the patient and the ministry is now awaiting laboratory confirmation of the disease.