Confusion today as reports suggest the younger sister of tragic teen Inês Sampaio – the country’s first measles’ death since the late 80s – is a new victim of the contagious childhood disease currently cutting a swathe through Europe.
The puzzle comes in the fact that last week media reports suggested Inês was the only sibling in her family not to have been fully vaccinated – due to having suffered a violent allergic reaction to an early infant vaccine.
Today however that assertion has changed.
Beatriz Sampaio, 12, only received her measles’ vaccine a few weeks ago.
Explains Correio da Manhã, director of health Francisco George said the youngster “was protected against the disease”, but “CM knows that the protection to which he is referring was administered less than a month ago, during the period in which her (older) sister was interned, first at Cascais hospital, and then at Dona Estefânia where she died from bilateral pneumonia, one of the complications of measles”.
Thus, fears over the current outbreak are once again piqued.
There are up to 15,000 unvaccinated children in this country, according to Francisco George – and while health hotlines have been buzzing, parents will now be realising that late vaccinations may not be enough to protect their children.
Needless to say, health bosses’ belief that the outbreak will not develop into a large scale epidemic remains.
The number of confirmed cases nationwide is still 21 (unchanged since last week), with 15 under analysis, reports CM.
Público adds that of these cases, nine health care professionals have contracted the disease – “at least two of which were not vaccinated”. In other words, as many as seven may have been previously inoculated.
Whether this is a precursor to the pharmaceutical industry developing a vaccine targeted at measles alone (the current triple vaccine is aimed at measles, mumps and Rubella) is the question that is now left hanging.
Certainly uptake of the triple vaccine has been less than exemplary elsewhere in Europe where cases of measles are now up to 7,500 in 14 countries.
The most number of cases have been recorded in Romania, where purportedly 96% of the country’s children have not been vaccinated.
The percentage is the same as the number of children in Portugal who have been vaccinated, hence health chiefs’ trust in the disease having little ground for propagation.
From the point of view of confirmed spread, 13 of Portugal’s 21 cases have been registered in the Lisbon and Vale do Tejo health district, seven in the Algarve and one in the north.
“The majority of cases occurred in adults over the age of 20”, reports CM – stressing that in the first four months of 2017, the country has seen more cases of measles than in the last decade.
A CM box story recalls that Portugal suffered a measles’ outbreak in 1993/94, in which 3000 cases were registered, with no deaths.
The last recorded measles deaths in Portugal – before 17-year-old Inês Sampaio last week – came in 1987 when 30 people died, claims CM.
Público suggests the last measles’ death only goes back 23 years. But with the virus now active in so many countries, European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis has told Público that this is one childhood vaccine that should be made obligatory.
In a question and answer session, the 65-year-old grandfather blamed the ‘anti-vaccine’ camp for “putting everybody at risk”.
But he stressed the way ahead depends on decisions by Portuguese health authorities, as Brussels cannot force countries to make their national vaccine programmes obligatory.
Meantime, the health of Beatriz Sampaio remains in the best possible hands.
Said George: “She is being treated in light of the best medical practices, as we await the results”.