Just under a year since Cambodia was declared measles-free by the World Health Organization, a 7-month-old baby from Kampong Speu province has been diagnosed with the disease and is receiving treatment in the capital, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.
While the origin of the case remains unknown, Ork Vichit, manager of Cambodia’s National Immunization Program, speculated that it could have been a rare case emerging from a rural area that had not received proper vaccinations or may have migrated from a neighbouring country where the disease has not been eradicated.
“The clue is that the mother had travelled a lot. But I cannot say to which country. The countries around us have hundreds of measles cases every year,” said Vichit.
He added that the Ministry of Health has sent out two teams – one to investigate the child’s living environment and vaccination regimen in Kong Pisei district, and another to facilities where the child was treated to determine if she came into contact with other children.
While cases of measles among children younger than 9 months are rare, they’re far from impossible, said WHO Cambodia representative Dr Shafiqul Hossain.
“In developing countries like Cambodia and Laos, a mother may be malnourished and not have [the correct levels of] antibodies. Children born to such mothers can suffer from measles as early as 6 months of life,” he said.
However, there are no plans to lower the vaccination age, which is currently not allowed on babies under 9 months as they still retain antibodies from their mothers at that age.