Midwife catches measles

PHOTO: acu.edu.au

Of the three individuals infected with measles this past month was a midwife at East-Tallinn Central Hospital (ITK) who worked for several days at obstetrics department before diagnosed with the disease. The hospital called about 40 people for extra checks. 

«The midwife who got sick is employee of our hospital and also sister to an infected patient who returned from Indonesia. In childhood, she was vaccinated against measles but the vaccines of that era did not ensure lifelong immunity,» explained ITK infection control department head Aino Rõõm.

The infected midwife was working in ITK on December 4th as she felt sick and had recourse to Western Tallinn Central Hospital infection clinic. On December 7th measles were diagnosed.

Ms Rõõm said that all employees and patients – about 40 people – who came in contact with the infected midwife while she was working have been invited to see her as infections doctor.

«We have checked them regarding antibodies that fight the measles virus. Based on analysis results, most employees do possess the antibodies so they will not fall ill with measles,» said the ITK department head.

6,600 kids not vaccinated

With measles, incubation period lasts for 7–18 (averaging 10 days), but in certain occasions it may be prolonged to 21 days.

Ms Rõõm explained that when under 72 hours have passed since contact with an infected individual and it is known that the person has no immunity, vaccination against measles may immediately be administered. In the given instance, there was no time for that any more.

«We could not vaccinate then anymore. As a rule, this is never done when too much time has passed since the contact. We must always wait till the entire incubation period is over. These are the rules. Otherwise, the live weakened vaccine my make the sickness more severe,» she said.

Health Board was notified of what had happened. The latter’s PR-manager Iiris Saluri said ITK would perform all needed examinations and find out who of those invited for check has sufficient immunity and enough antibodies and who needs to be vaccinated. She said all these things have already been performed.

«We cannot say yet that there is no danger. At the moment, we may say that no one has additionally fallen ill. There is one individual suspected to be infected, but not related to ITK. The individual is under monitoring having developed a rash,» said Ms Saluri.

ITKs Ms Rõõm said that some parents regrettably have declined from vaccinating their children. «Therefore, measles may spread to such children and their parents who were vaccinated before 1981 with one vaccination dose,» she said.

In 2014, Estonia had 6,601 unvaccinated children aged 2–14. Of these, mist dwell in Tallinn and Harju County.

In Estonian vaccination calendar, children are vaccinated against measles at ages 1 and 13. Ms Saluri said infants under six months old are not vaccinated.

«And indeed there is no need: because if the mother is vaccinated or has been ill with measles, that will provide for six months of protection and at times up to nine months for the infant. If for any reason vaccination is still needed, it will be begun anew from age one,» said Ms Saluri.

Not for the pregnant

For those pregnant at early stages, contracting measles id extremely dangerous. «In that case, the doctors just do an abortion, the birth will be induced as the baby will not be viable,» she said.

Also, it is not advisable for those pregnant to be vaccinated against measles. «The pregnant cannot be vaccinated. It has even be said that if you are administered the measles, mumps and rubella i.e. MMR vaccine you need to see that you do not get pregnant during the three months that follow,» said Ms Saluri.

Ms Rõõm added that as the incubation period of the measles case related to their hospital ends, IKT plans its obstetrics clinic staff to be revaccinated against measles – that in case the antibodies test was negative.

Due to the recent cases of sickness, Health Board asks family doctors to be especially careful as to suspicions of measles and to take the sickness seriously. Parents ought to check if their children are MMR-vaccinated according to the immunisation plan and, if needed, turn to their family doctor or health service provider at school to have the missed vaccinations administered.

Parents who have opted to not vaccinate their children should definitely notify the collectives of their children. Till the danger is past, it would be advisable to keep the unvaccinated children at home.

Health Board reminds us that measles is an extremely easily spreading infection – after contact with an infected individual, 98 of a 100 may fall ill of such as are not vaccinated or have never had measles.