Three more cases of measles confirmed in Taiwan

TAIPEI (CNA) – Three more cases of measles have been confirmed in Taiwan, bringing the number since the beginning of the year to 20, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said today.

The new cases include a man in his 30s who had visited Macau during the Lunar New Year holiday, and a woman, also in her 30s, who had not traveled overseas in recent months.

The two patients developed symptoms Feb. 15 and Feb. 16, respectively, the CDC said.

The third patient is a university student in his 20s who had recently come into contact with a patient seeking treatment at a hospital in Taipei for a case of measles imported from Vietnam.

The student subsequently developed symptoms of the disease Feb. 19.

All three new patients are being quarantined at home, the CDC said.

Local health authorities have so far observed 164 people who came into contact with the imported case from Vietnam, of which five were later confirmed to have contracted the disease, the CDC added.

Measles is a highly contagious disease, as exemplified by the Taipei hospital case in which that one patient alone infected five others, said CDC Deputy Director-General Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞).

When a measles patient coughs or sneezes in a room, the virus can hang in the air for two hours, and anyone nearby who has not been vaccinated can be infected, Lo explained.

The center urged people to see a doctor and wear a gauze mask if they develop symptoms such as fever, rash, rhinitis, pink eye, or coughing.

The CDC reminded the public that measles is highly contagious and that vaccination remains the best way to prevent infection. Parents are urged to ensure timely vaccination of children under one year and those under five who have not started elementary school, and to avoid taking unvaccinated children to affected areas.

If such travel is unavoidable, it is recommended that children over 6 months and under 1 year should receive one dose of self-paid MMR vaccine at a local clinic two weeks prior to travel.

Taiwan has since the beginning of the year recorded 20 confirmed measles cases, nine of which have been imported – five from the Philippines and four from Vietnam – according to CDC data.

By Kuan Chung-wei and Ko Lin