Singapore

Measles cases on the rise since start of the year

The number of measles cases since the start of the year is more than three times that of the same period last year, but no deaths have been reported, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

In the first 11 weeks of the year, there were 38 cases of measles, compared with 11 cases last year.

It is also the highest number recorded for the first 11-week period since 2015.

MOH assured the public that there is no evidence of further spread of the disease in the community.

"The majority of reported cases in 2019 were single and sporadic local infections, except for five separate instances of spread to a family member or close friend," it said.

Measles, which affects the respiratory system and often results in a skin rash, is highly transmissible among people who are not vaccinated.

Measles vaccination is compulsory by law for all children living here, while the National Adult Immunisation Schedule also recommends it for people who have not been vaccinated.

Of the 38 people infected this year, 25 contracted the virus locally and the rest were infected while in the Philippines, Vietnam, Dubai and Thailand.

Children made up 14 of the cases. Nine were infants who had not been given the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, and five, aged one to 10 years old, had missed their vaccinations.

Among the 24 adults, 15 were not known to have been vaccinated.

The ministry said that the majority of people who had measles since 2015 - for the first 11 weeks - were infected locally.

It added that it will continue to monitor the situation closely and has alerted general practitioners to look out for cases of measles, especially in patients who have recently travelled overseas or who have not been vaccinated, and notify MOH promptly.

Professor Leo Yee Sin, executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, said: "We need to pay close attention to the situation.

"There is an increasing global trend of measles cases, including in many countries in this region.

"Singapore is well connected globally as a travel hub, hence we anticipate an increase in the number of cases."

The World Health Organisation said last month that scepticism over vaccines, conflict and poor access to vaccines had contributed to a worldwide resurgence in measles last year.

MEDICAL & HEALTH