WILLEMSTAD – On Monday April 29, the department of Epidemiology in Curaçao was informed about a confirmed case of measles among a crew member of the Freewinds ship. According to the information at hand the ship has been navigating numerous times between Curaçao and Aruba in the last weeks of April, and was heading to St. Lucia by the end of April.
The moment the news came in, several exercises were undertaken to minimize the possibility for an outbreak of the disease both on board and among the local habitants, as well as on international level. It’s imperative to make all efforts to prevent a spread of this disease internationally.
On Saturday May 4, the Freewinds ship returned to the Curaçao harbor being its home base. From that moment the Curaçao Medical and Health Service (GGD) continued its work to prevent the disease to keep spreading. The Ministry of Public Health, Environment and Nature of Curaçao provided the vaccine against measles while the concerned departments of the GGD vaccinated and registered everyone on board who has received the vaccine. An investigation was also be done to determine who will be allowed to leave the ship without forming a threat to the population of Curaçao.
All executed work was done according to international rules and regulations and in close collaboration with the Dutch National Institute for Health and Environment (RIVM), the Panamerican Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
CALL TO THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE VISITED THE FREEWINDS SHIP
While the ship was anchored in the Curaçao harbor, there were different events held that was attended by several local people.
A request goes out to everyone who may have visited the Freewinds ship between April 22 – 28 2019, to please contact GGD as soon as possible by calling 9345 or 0800-0888. These people will be instructed and asked to provide information, as well as be monitored until a certain date to make sure all danger for a possible infection are dissipated.
CHANCE OF INFECTION
With regards to the public in general, we ask to not go into panic, since the risk for the disease to spread among us is relatively small in this case. People who had measles in the past or that have been vaccinated against it, can’t get infected wth the measles virus anymore. Meaning, a majority of the people are not at risk to get the disease. All parents are asked to have their children vaccinated according to the vaccine schedule of the Children’s Health Department. To make sure your child(ren) has or have been vaccinated please check the vaccine card. All children under the age of 19 that have been vaccinated do not run any risk.
If you do not know your vaccine status, neither are you sure if you have gotten the measles and you are between the ages of 19 and 50, you are able to get the vaccine at the GGD Vaccination Office for Adults at Zakito. You can get more information from the nurse or make an appointment by calling 432-2860. You can leave your last name and telephone number on the voice mail if there’s no answer to get contacted back. It has been calculated that the majority of the people who are above the age of 50, have already gotten the measles and therefore do not need to get vaccinated since they are naturally immunized.
What are the measles symptoms:
Sudden high fever, couching, running nose, red watery eyes. Three to five days after becoming sick the persons gets skin irritation (rashes) that starts appearing at the hairlines, following the face, then the body and finally on the hands and legs.