Costa Rican health officials say an unvaccinated 5-year-old boy from France who arrived in the country with his parents last week is being tested for a suspected case of the measles. The boy, who was not identified in a statement from the Ministry of Health, is being kept in isolation at Monsenor Sanabria Hospital in Puntarenas. Local reports said his mother and father are also being isolated, and that other children at the boy’s school in France have been diagnosed with the virus.
A news release said officials were searching for anyone the boy may have come into contact with before he was placed in isolation, including those who also arrived in the country on the same Air France flight as him on February 18.
“The Ministry of Health requests that if you know of someone who has symptoms of measles (fever, nasal congestion, cough, conjunctivitis, skin rash that starts in the head and expands through the body to the feet, reaching the hips around the second day) it is vital that they notify the health authorities as soon as possible,” the news release said.
Costa Rica has not had a domestic case of measles since 2006, with the last imported case diagnosed in 2014.
Health officials enacted a vaccination campaign across the country’s schools earlier this month in an effort to vaccinate over 100,000 children in the hopes of avoiding the outbreaks currently plaguing other parts of the world. Japan, Madagascar, the Philippines and regions of the U.S. and Europe are all scrambling to contain the highly contagious virus from spreading.
The World Health Organization earlier this year listed vaccination hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019, noting a 30 percent increase in measles cases worldwide.
“Vaccination hesitancy – the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases,” WHO said in its announcement. “Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.”