Unvaccinated French boy reintroduces measles to Costa Rica

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An unvaccinated French boy is suspected of reintroducing measles to Costa Rica after the Central American country had been free of the disease for five years, reports The Daily Telegraph. The five-year-old boy, who was on holiday with his parents, had never had a measles jab and the arrival of the highly contagious disease has sparked concern about the anti-vaccine movement. It is not clear why the child was not vaccinated.

The report says the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned last month that “vaccine hesitancy” was among the 10 most serious threats to human health. “Some countries that were close to eliminating measles have seen a resurgence,” the WHO warned. And, the report says, Agnès Buzyn, the French health minister, last year made vaccinations against measles and 11 other diseases compulsory for children. Buzyn has made extending vaccination coverage one of her top priorities.

Measles caused 110,000 deaths worldwide in 2017, the WHO said, despite the widespread availability of a vaccine. The majority of those who died were children under five.

The report says The Costa Rica Star reported that neither the boy nor his mother, 30, had been vaccinated. The father, 35, is reportedly not up to date with his vaccinations. The newspaper said the parents told a doctor in Costa Rica that other children at the boy’s school in France had contracted measles.

The report says a spokesperson for the French Health Ministry confirmed that a French five-year-old boy in Costa Rica was suffering from measles. She said the measles vaccination had only been compulsory in France for children born on or after 1 January 2018, and the boy affected was therefore not covered by the requirement introduced by the current government

Costa Rican authorities said they had informed their French counterparts so that they can track whether others in France have been infected.

The report says Costa Rica has not had a domestic measles case since 2006. The last recorded case brought in from another country was in 2014.

The boy is being treated and both he and his parents will be held in quarantine for at least seven days at the Monseñor Sanabria Hospital in the port town of Puntarenas, near the Santa Teresa beach resort where they were staying. The family arrived in Costa Rica on 18 February.

The Costa Rican Health Ministry said 26 people known to have had contact with family have now been vaccinated. The ministry is quoted in the report as saying: “Our country enjoys very good vaccination coverage in general. However, in order to avoid particular cases and their possible complications, it is important that those in charge of minors ensure that children have the complete the vaccination scheme.”

The Daily Telegraph report

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