Ministry of Health confirms measles outbreak in Tenerife

Ministry of Health confirms measles outbreak in Tenerife

The Ministry of Health has confirmed a measles outbreak in Tenerife, which although only affecting four people so far, has the ability to spread rapidly through the population. The index case is a young girl who had not been vaccinated, and among the other three cases, two are infants who had not yet reached the age for their first dose of the vaccine, and one is a young adult who, being vaccinated, experienced a milder form of the disease.

The Directorate General of Public Health has monitored over 400 contacts of the affected individuals to check their vaccination status and inform them of measures to take if they begin to exhibit symptoms.

While there is no need for public alarm given the high vaccination coverage against measles in the region, this outbreak highlights the critical importance of proper vaccination.

The current vaccination schedule includes two doses, the first at 12 months and the second at three years old.

In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Spain free of endemic measles transmission due to the low number of cases and outbreaks identified. However, recent reports indicate cases in nine regions, with five of them experiencing outbreaks. As of the first week of May, Spain has reported 42 confirmed cases of measles.

What is measles and what are the symptoms?

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection characterised by a range of symptoms that typically begin with a high fever, often reaching up to 104°F (40°C), accompanied by cold-like symptoms, cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis).

One of the hallmark signs of measles is the appearance of Koplik spots, which are small white spots with bluish-white centres found inside the mouth, particularly on the inner lining of the cheek.

A few days later, a red or reddish-brown rash develops, usually starting on the face at the hairline and spreading downward to the neck, body, arms, legs, and feet. This rash typically lasts for about five to six days before fading.

Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, tiredness, irritability and a general lack of energy. It is important to seek medical attention promptly if measles is suspected, as complications can include pneumonia, encephalitis, and severe dehydration.