By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Monday, July 9th, Rio de Janeiro’s Secretary of Health in conjunction with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) announced they had confirmed two cases of the measles in Rio de Janeiro.
Officials said the two confirmed cases are law students at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) campus in Centro, where, until the end of last week, there were thirteen suspected cases of measles.
These students had just visited Petrópolis to participate in a symposium for young people from several Brazilian states.
One of the students diagnosed with the disease spoke with Globo news and revealed that she had visited the hospital at the first onset of symptoms, but hospital staff had initially misdiagnosed her condition.
“They said it was zika or chikungunya,” said the student. “I had a rash and a fever over 39 degrees. I had conjunctivitis, a lot of coughing, pain in the body, especially in the legs, a lot of pain in the eye and the rash was intense.”
She added, “They gave me dipirone, the fever went down, so they sent me home. In two hours, the fever would return.”
According to DOH officials, on July 3rd, city authorities had conducted a series of vaccinations at the UFRJ campus to prevent the spread of the disease.
In Brazil, the measles vaccine is a part of the Viral Triple e Tetra Viral vaccines (Triple Viral Vaccine for the mumps, measles, and rubella). It is normally administered to children between 12 and 15 months old.
Rio State Health officials said vaccination coverage against the disease for one-year-old children in the state is 95 percent.
However, earlier this month, three Brazilian states confirmed outbreaks of measles, with the northern states of Amazonas and Roraima, accounting for about 500 confirmed cases.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease which can cause fever, red and sore eyes, runny nose, cough, and rashes. It can lead to grave health complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis, and is spread by contact through coughing or sneezing.