The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday that 11 more cases of measles had been reported within the past two weeks, bringing the total number of cases to 30 since January.
The number of cases so far this year is already equal to the total number of cases in the past three years, CDC statistics show.
“We urge parents not to take babies younger than 12 months to infected countries,” said Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), deputy director of the CDC.
To deal with the increasing number of cases, Chou also said that newborn babies will now have to start receiving the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine when they are 12-months old instead of 12 to 15 months.
Chou said that babies should be given the MMR vaccine ahead of trips to countries such as China and Vietnam.
“Taking the vaccine earlier may not work as well as taking it at the proper time, but, it is better than no protection,” Chou said.
Among the 30 cases, two were infected in China and three in Vietnam, while the rest were indigenous cases.
The CDC has introduced a new system at airports that requires children younger than six years of age returning from a foreign country to provide a vaccine record. Make-up injections will be provided if children have missed any required vaccines.
Complications resulting from measles are relatively common and usually more severe amongst adults who catch the virus.
Meanwhile, the CDC yesterday warned residents in northern Taiwan not to lower their guard against dengue fever, as the year’s first case of indigenous dengue fever was confirmed in Kaohsiung County.
The CDC issued the warning in light of the fact that indigenous dengue fever cases were recorded last year in Taipei City and County, Keelung City and Taoyuan County, which it said indicates that a dengue outbreak could occur in northern regions and not just in the south.
The first case this year was a 55-year-old man from Daliao (大寮), Kaohsiung County, who worked on a pineapple farm in Pingtung County.
On March 22, he showed typical symptoms of the disease, including fever, joint soreness and a skin rash, the CDC said.
The case was reported on Friday when the man was hospitalized, the CDC said.
As of Monday, Taiwan had recorded a total of 41 dengue fever cases so far this year — one indigenous and 40 imported cases, statistics released by the CDC showed.
With outbreaks of dengue fever in neighboring countries increasing this year, the number of imported cases has risen significantly compared with the 23 recorded during the same period last year, the CDC said.
Of the imported cases, 23 were from Indonesia, 13 from Vietnam, two from Thailand and one each from Myanmar and India, the statistics showed.
The center urged people to seek immediate medical treatment if they develop symptoms of dengue fever, such as fever, headache, nausea, fatigue, pain behind the eyes and muscle and joint pains.
People who think that they may have been infected should have a screening test. If they are confirmed to have dengue fever, they will receive a NT$2,500 reward for reporting the disease, in accordance with a reward clause in the Communicable Disease Control Act, the CDC said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA AND STAFF WRITER