Health officials are on alert as of early March due to fears of a possible measles outbreak in Roraima state amid an influx of Venezuelan refugees. According to local sources, 12 suspected cases of measles amid Venezuelan refugees, including one death, were being investigated as of Monday, March 5.
Enhanced public health measures, including vaccination campaigns, have been implemented throughout the region to stem the spread of the disease.
According to humanitarian officials, an estimated 500,000 Venezuelans have fled the country since the beginning of the year, 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. At least 10 percent of the population of Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima state, are now Venezuelan migrants.
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 occurs 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 above symptoms is urged to seek immediate medical attention.