5 things every Singapore parent must know about the measles outbreak in Japan and Taiwan

April 30, 2018
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    Have you heard about the recent outbreak of measles in Japan and Taiwan? According to recent media reports, thousands of people are in quarantine – over 3,500 people in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung and another 980 are being monitored in Taoyuan, just outside Taipei.

    Related: HFMD horror story: Mum loses fingernails, toenails and hair from disease

     

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    In Japan, the disease has spread in Okinawa, which is a popular tourism destination among Taiwanese, and appeared to be heading north, with cases confirmed in Nagoya. The outbreak was traced to a male flight attendant with Tigerair Taiwan.

    Here’s what Singapore parents must know about this regional outbreak and its implications for kids here.

     

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  • What is measles?
    3 / 7 What is measles?

    Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family. Symptoms include high fever, a runny nose, coughing, red and watery eyes and a rash. On average, rashes occur 14 days after exposure to the virus.

    Serious complications associated with measles can result in blindness, ear infections, severe diarrhoea and even death.

    Related: 7 things you should know about vaccines for babies

     

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  • How does measles spread?
    4 / 7 How does measles spread?

    The disease is usually passed by direct contact or through the air.

    Related: 7 things you should know about urinary tract infections in babies and toddlers

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  • Are Singaporeans safe from contracting measles?
    5 / 7 Are Singaporeans safe from contracting measles?

    Most Singaporeans have developed immunity towards measles either by vaccination or through contracting the disease naturally. Under the Infectious Diseases Act, children here must undergo two doses of the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine during their lifetime – the first dose at 12 months of age and a second dose at 15 to 18 months. Two doses of the MMR vaccine grant life-long protection against measles.

    Related: 7 things you should know about ear infections in babies and toddlers

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  • How can Singaporeans protect themselves from measles if they have not been vaccinated?
    6 / 7 How can Singaporeans protect themselves from measles if they have not been vaccinated?

    Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles. If you have not been vaccinated (and do not want to be), good hygiene and cleanliness should be maintained.

    Related: Why is baby still sick after a week?

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  • Will a measles outbreak occur in Singapore?
    7 / 7 Will a measles outbreak occur in Singapore?

    It is unlikely that an outbreak will happen here as a large proportion of Singaporeans have been vaccinated. This not only provides immunity to those vaccinated, but also decreases the likelihood of measles within the unvaccinated population. This is herd immunity: This occurs when the vaccination of a significant proportion of a population can provide a measure of protection towards unvaccinated and non-immune individuals.

    A version of this story first appeared in The Straits Times.

    Photos: 123RF.com

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