Fiji free of measles so far this year, further tests show: Health

Fiji has not had cases of measles this year, the country’s Ministry of Health has said after further tests on samples from 10 cases that were detected in the Northern and Central divisions produced negative results.

In a joint statement with the World Health Organisation, the MOH said the second round of tests, more specific for measles, that was carried out in Australia returned negative results.

In the statement, the ministry said their announcements back in July of having detected 10 cases of measles were based on results of tests that were carried out at Fiji’s CDC Lab. Using the same test procedure, similar outcomes were detected in the first round of tests on samples that were sent to the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory for measles at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) in Melbourne.

“An additional round of tests was conducted using a more specific measles test and all samples produced negative results. After consultation between experts within the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, VIDRL, and WHO, it has been concluded that none of the 10 are cases of measles. So far this year, there are no confirmed cases of measles in Fiji,” the statement said.

“The initial tests used to diagnose measles are serological tests, which are designed to detect antibodies to the measles virus, and not the measles virus itself. There are known factors, including antibodies from other infections, that can result in testing positive on the serological tests when the individual does not have measles; this is known as a false positive. False positive results on serological tests are more likely to happen in places where measles has been eliminated, or occurs at a very low rate, like in Fiji.”

In response to these test results, the ministry says it is working with WHO to establish additional testing methods to enable rapid and even more accurate diagnosis in Fiji. 

In the meantime, the ministry will maintain its measles surveillance to detect cases in the country – whereby it will use the same testing approach and treat cases tested positive in Fiji as suspected cases until definitive results are received from the reference laboratory.

Image by Freepik

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