South Africa

ICYMI – Measle outbreak CONFIRMED in Gauteng – but remain calm

A measle outbreak has been confirmed in Gauteng, but the Minister of Health has called for calm amid the four confirmed cases.

THE MEASLE OUTBREAK HAS BEEN CONFIRMED BY HEALTH MINISTER

According to the National Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale, the four cases were detected over the last two weeks of May 2022.

“Over the last two weeks of May 2022, four suspected cases of measles from persons residing in Gauteng have been notified and ultimately confirmed through laboratory testing conducted by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).”

Foster Mohale

He furthermore said three of these cases are individuals residing in Tshwane, which means that the City of Tshwane is experiencing an outbreak of measles.

Measle outbreak CONFIRMED in Gauteng – but remain calm Photo: Stock/Canva

THREE CASES WERE CONFIRMED IN TSHWANE

The fourth case is an individual residing in the West Rand of Gauteng.

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Foster said all four individuals are presently isolated and are recovering.

Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla is calling for calm and vigilance.

THE FOURTH CASE WAS CONFIRMED IN WEST RAND, GAUTENG

“The health authorities in the affected districts and communities are working together to identify and conduct vaccination of contacts.”

Phaahla urged parents and caregivers to ensure that their children are up-to-date with their vaccinations in line with the vaccination schedule against measles and other childhood diseases.

“Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus which mainly spreads through infectious airborne respiratory droplets from infected persons when coughing or sneezing.”

Dr. Joe Phaahla

However, the measles vaccine has been in use for almost 60 years and is the best protection against this life-threatening childhood disease.

ALSO READ: What is Monkeypox? Outbreak sweeps across Europe, but should SA be worried?

“It is safe, effective, and available free of charge at public health facilities”, said Phaahla.

HERE ARE THE SYMPTOMS YOU SHOULD BE LOOKING OUT FOR:

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MEASLES:

Measles symptoms include:

  • Fever,
  • Red eyes,
  • Runny nose
  • Cough typically appears before the onset of the disease’s characteristic maculopapular rash.

Children, especially those under one year of age, may develop complicated measles, which may include pneumonia, eye complications, and, rarely, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Unvaccinated young children are at the highest risk of measles and its complications, including irreversible brain damage and/or death, especially in immunocompromised or malnourished children.

Departmental officials are working closely with the Gauteng Department of Health, the City of Tshwane, the NICD, and other stakeholders including the World Health Organization and UNICEF to investigate and respond to the outbreak.

MAKE SURE YOUR CHILDREN ARE UP TO DATE WITH VACCINATIONS

The response includes increased surveillance and vigilance throughout the province.

According to the South African Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), children are given the measles vaccine at 6 months and 12 months of age. These vaccines are available free of charge at public health facilities.

Measles is a notifiable medical condition in terms of the National Health Act, and clinicians have been alerted on the symptoms to look for.

If the clinical picture fits with measles, they are urged to complete a case investigation form and send samples to the National Health Laboratory Service for testing.

ALSO READ: SA ‘on the brink’ of a measles outbreak – due to LOW vaccination rates

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