Through the first nearly five months of 2016, measles cases have nearly tripled the numbers seen in Singapore in 2015, health officials report.

Image/Jim Goodson, M.P.H.
Image/Jim Goodson, M.P.H.

As of 21 May, a total of 50 measles cases were reported in 2016, as compared to 17 cases in 2015 during the same period. This has prompted health officials to urge parents to ensure their children are vaccinated.

34 of the 40 local cases this year were children. 17 (42.5%) were children under the age of one year who were not due for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination. 14 (35%) were children between the age of one to six years who had missed their MMR vaccination and three were children at the age of one year who had received only one dose of MMR vaccination.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that mainly affects children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initialsymptoms usually appear 10-12 days afterinfection, and include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.

Measles can be prevented by immunization. There is no specific treatment, and most people recover within 2-3 weeks. However, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness,encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infections andpneumonia, particularly in malnourished children and people with reduced immunity.