Health officials in Brazil have warned of ongoing measles outbreaks in the northern states of Amazonas and Roraima, both located along the border with Venezuela from which the disease is being imported amid a surge of migration. A handful of cases have also been reported and the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul and Rio de Janeiro. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, as of early July 263 cases had been reported in Amazonas, 200 in Roraima (including two deaths), six in Rio Grande do Sul, and two in Rio de Janeiro state. In addition, an estimated 1500 suspected cases remain under investigation in the abovementioned areas. Authorities have implemented public health measures, including vaccination campaigns, to prevent further spread of the disease.
According to humanitarian officials, more than a million Venezuelans have fled the country over the past 15 months, with a large percentage taking refuge in Colombia and Brazil. The migrant crisis is expected to worsen throughout 2018 as Venezuela's economy continues to falter.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that typically affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of infected persons. Symptoms of measles are usually a high fever, which begins approximately ten to 12 days after exposure to the virus and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over the course of about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days and then fades. On average, the rash appears 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days). A vaccine is available.
Potentially affected individuals are advised to ensure their measles vaccination is up to date (including booster shots) and to contact their doctor with any questions or concerns. Anyone experiencing the abovementioned symptoms is urged to seek immediate medical attention.
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