The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported a new measles case in northern Taiwan and warned that chicken pox is most common during winter and spring, saying that young children should receive vaccinations and maintain good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
The new confirmed measles case is a woman in her 30s living in New Taipei City who has taken public buses and visited clinics and hospitals during the communicability period, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍) said.
The agency’s preliminary estimate is that about 480 people had direct contact with the woman and would be monitored for symptoms until Friday next week, she said.
The woman visited Thailand from Nov. 7 to Nov. 16; began experiencing the symptoms of fever, throat pain, rashes and shortness of breath on Nov. 21; and first sought treatment at a clinic on Nov. 22, CDC physician Huang Wan-ting (黃婉婷) said.
She was diagnosed with a cold on her first and second visits to a clinic for treatment, Huang said, adding that she on Monday last week sought treatment at a hospital, where doctors initially suspected that she had a urinary tract infection.
However, test results on Saturday confirmed that the woman had contracted measles, Huang said, adding that she remained hospitalized.
The woman had taken public bus route No. 644 and the Zhongxiao (忠孝) Taipei Metro Bus line on Nov. 18 and the Green 8 route in New Taipei City on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, the CDC said.
People who took buses on those routes on those days who experience measles symptoms — fever, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, coughing and rashes — should wear a surgical mask and seek medical attention immediately, it said.
As the woman has asthma, the shortness of breath she experienced along with the onset of other symptoms, which are common indicators of a measles infection, might have led doctors to misdiagnose her, because the disease has not been spreading in Taiwan, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.
Measles is at its peak in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, so people who plan to visit the region should consult a doctor about receiving a vaccination in advance and inform doctors about their travel if they develop a fever or rashes after returning to Taiwan, he said.
Separately, 861 hospital visits for chicken pox were reported last week, more than the previous two weeks, and 16 cluster cases have been reported in the past four weeks, mostly on school campuses, Liu said.
Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral disease that can spread from person to person by direct contact and inhalation of airborne droplets of saliva, and it is contagious from five days before a rash appears until all blisters have dried and crusted, Huang said.
Children younger than one, pregnant women and people with immunodeficiency disorders have a higher risk of contracting chicken pox, Lo said, adding that the best prevention is to get the varicella vaccine.
A government-funded first dose should be administered to infants at 12 months of age, while children aged four to six can receive an out-of-pocket second dose before starting elementary school, he said.
In related news, the CDC said the second phase of government-funded seasonal flu vaccinations for preschool-age children and people aged at least 65 would begin on Sunday.
People who are eligible should get vaccinated at one of the nation’s 4,090 contracted healthcare facilities and local health centers as soon as possible, it said.
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