PORT MORESBY - Just before Christmas the health department confirmed two positive cases of measles in Papua New Guinea.
Testing at the central public health laboratory detected the disease in the Gulf and New Ireland provinces when surveillance was heightened due to the deadly measles outbreak in Samoa which killed 80 people, mainly young children.
Health authorities say measles is a very contagious virus-borne disease that spreads easily from person to person through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing.
There is a good immunisation program in PNG; this year alone more than a million children under five years have been vaccinated - over 95% of the targeted population.
However, this still leaves a gap that could result in possible measles outbreaks.
The public has been reassured that health authorities are working in close collaboration with the provinces.
It is not known if there are more measles cases to be identified, but all necessary measures are being taken.
In New Ireland and Gulf, medical teams have been deployed to investigate and undertake preventative measures including vaccination.
Measles attacks the most vulnerable people and small children and parents and carers have been asked to take unvaccinated children aged from six months to two years to the nearest health facility for immunisation.
The measles vaccine is safe and effective and it’s free.
If parents think a child might have measles, they must notify their nearest health provider and avoid crowds and public spaces to prevent the spread of the disease.