South Africa measles outbreak: 57 cases in two provinces


news desk Laugh

South Africa National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) 57 measles outbreaks were reported in Limpopo Province and Mpumalanga Province from 1 September to 16 November 2022.

Photo/Robert Herrmann

Capricorn and Waterberg Districts in Limpopo Province and Ihlanzini in Mpumalanga Province have reported three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of measles within 30 days in an area that meets the criteria for declaring a measles outbreak.

Laboratory-confirmed measles cases in Limpopo province have increased to 52 since the start of the measles outbreak, and laboratory-confirmed measles cases are on the rise in Capri, Greater Sikhon, Mopani and Waterberg regions. Vhembe County has reported two laboratory confirmed cases of measles; One case of measles is epidemiologically linked to the measles circulation in Zimbabwe. In the past seven days, four laboratory confirmed cases of measles have been reported in Pushbakridge District, Ilanzini District, Mpumalanga Province. Ehlanzeni District shares borders with Greater Sekhukhune and Mopani Districts which were the first districts to declare measles outbreaks. An outbreak of measles cases in Limpopo Province and Ihlanzini district of Mpumalanga Province poses a risk of measles outbreaks. Sporadic laboratory confirmed measles cases have been reported in the Northern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Free State and Western Cape provinces.

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Laboratory confirmed measles cases aged 6 months to 24 years have been identified in Greater Sikhokhon Region, and 2 to 42 years of age in Mopane District. The measles patients in Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga Province, ranged in age from 18 months to 10 years. The incidence of measles is high in the age groups 13 months – 4 years and 5 – 9 years. No deaths or other complications were reported after the two children were discharged from the hospital.

Affected areas continue the public health response to trace laboratory-confirmed measles cases and vaccinate contacts. In healthcare facilities, catch-up shots are given to children who have missed measles vaccinations to increase immunity in the community. The public health response to the measles outbreak in Limpopo Province should aim to improve measles immunity. It is necessary to vaccinate contacts of measles cases in the Ehlanzeni district of laboratory-confirmed measles cases to prevent the spread of the measles virus. To prevent the spread of measles virus to other provinces, sporadic measles cases should be tracked and given measles vaccine doses according to national measles surveillance guidelines.

Laboratory confirmed measles cases with unknown measles vaccination history were 86% (49/57) which affected the assessment of measles coverage in affected areas. Affected areas in Limpopo province continue to investigate measles cases and vaccinate contacts. Measles catch-up vaccination continues in health care facilities for children who have missed routine measles immunization doses.

Measles patients present with fever, rash, and one or more of the following symptoms such as cough, red eyes, and runny nose. Complications of measles include pneumonia, diarrhea, dehydration, encephalitis, blindness, and death. Complications of measles are most severe in malnourished children and young children under 2 years of age. Anyone of any age who has not been vaccinated can contract measles and become ill. Doctors and caregivers should be alert to anyone showing the signs and symptoms listed above and review Children’s Road to Health booklets to ensure that measles vaccinations are up to date. Measles vaccine doses are given routinely at 6 and 12 months of age. It’s never too late to get vaccinated against measles.

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