Health officials have beefed up surveillance efforts at ports of entry in response to reports of confirmed cases of measles and yellow fever in neighbouring Venezuela and Brazil.
The Ministry of Public Health has issued a health alert in the media collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO).
According to the advisory, measles and rubella were eliminated from the Americas in 2016, but significant and localised outbreaks have been documented in Brazil and Venezuela, with a few other countries in the process of investigating suspected areas.
Health officials have advised travellers that upon leaving or entering Guyana, port health officers will be looking for signs and symptoms associated with fever.
These include rash, cough, sore throat, runny nose, red eye, joint pains, swollen glands and jaundice.
“Yellow fever has not been seen in Guyana since the late 1960s,” the public advisory noted. Yellow fever outbreaks were reported in Brazil during 2016 and one case was identified in a traveller to Suriname.
WHO has advised that all travellers over nine months old going to or travelling from areas with documented measles virus circulation should be fully vaccinated against measles or rubella with the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccines.
“The traveller who cannot demonstrate that they have been vaccinated against measles or rubella should receive the combined vaccines at least two weeks before arrival in Guyana or before travelling to neighbouring countries,” the health alert states.
There are growing health concerns throughout South America about the movement of people fleeing political and economic hardships in Venezuela.
In Brazil, this exodus has been blamed for the pockets of measles in the country, as the genotype of the virus (D8) that is circulating in the country, is the same that circulates in Venezuela.
Dr. Oneka Scott, Maternal and Child Health Director [AG] had previously told Kaieteur News that keeping Guyana measles-free is among the priority matters.
“We have been vaccinating those in the border communities, working with the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) as well as a special team that we have put together to look at what our needs are. There was an entire surveillance plan developed,” Dr. Scott had explained.
According to the Director, in March, they extended the vaccination campaign to adults in bordering areas in some of the more difficult places to reach in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine.
Dr. Scott noted that Venezuelans, Brazilians, as well as Guyanese are being vaccinated.
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