GUAM "MEASLES" SCARE JUST A RASH

By Sunny Babauta

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, ) - The lab test results from five new suspected measles cases reported last week that were sent off-island for conformation came back negative — the cases were dismissed as rash illnesses.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services’ immunization program supervisor Ron Balajadia said the cases were probably other childhood rash diseases.

"Sometimes a child can develop a rash on his or her body or have a fever — this may look like the symptoms of measles," he said. "We take blood samples as a precaution because other illnesses and measles can have the same symptoms."

Symptoms of measles include a fever, red eyes, cold-like stuffy nose, cough, and white spots on the inside of the mouth. On the third day of the illness a characteristic red bumpy rash will begin to spread on the face and then throughout the body. The disease can be severe and in some cases may lead to pneumonia or brain inflammation. The disease can be fatal if not treated.

Last month, the Department of Public Health and Social Services announced that a total of five measles cases were confirmed. Three cases out of the five were imported via the Marshall Islands. The other two were spread locally.

Balajadia said the island is not experiencing an outbreak or epidemic of measles but he still stresses that the disease can be prevented if parents and guardians have their children immunized. He said the island will be "clear" if there are no more suspected cases found by Oct. 10. There is a waiting period after the last case of confirmed measles is reported.

In 1994, there were 228 reported cases of the measles virus and three deaths were reported.

Last April the island also experienced a mini-outbreak of the measles epidemic with nine reported cases but no deaths.

October 2, 2003

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