Joburg prepared for measles outbreak

Communicable illnesses outbreak response teams in the City of Johannesburg are on high alert for any cases of measles, following a health alert issued by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Nine cases have already been confirmed and vaccinated in Region G (including Greater Ennerdale, Lenasia, Eldorado Park, Orange Farm and Weilers Farm).

This, according to the MMC for Health and Social Development, Dr Mpho Phalatse who said in Gauteng, measles surveillance and follow-ups of suspected measles cases in primary healthcare facilities, hospitals and ports of entry are ongoing.

The institute issued the health alert in late January, following a measles outbreak in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape.

Parents and caregivers are urged to ensure that they are up to date with their children’s vaccinations as per the immunisation schedule.

“Parents and community members can help by ensuring that all children are immunised against measles at the correct ages. Any child who is suspected to be suffering from measles should be taken to the nearest health facility for examination and investigation,” Phalatse said.

According to the City, measles is an airborne respiratory infection caused by the rubeola virus.

Although it is usually seen in children, it can also affect adolescents and adults.

With symptoms such as body rash, fever, loss of appetite, coughing, conjunctivitis (red eyes) and coryza (a runny nose), measles has an incubation period of between 10 and 14 days, often longer in adults than in children

“Those at the highest risk of contracting measles, which can be fatal, are unvaccinated young children and pregnant women and any non-immune person who has not been vaccinated or was vaccinated but did not develop immunity,” added Phalatse. “The measles vaccine, which is available at all the City’s 81 clinics and health facilities, is administered when a child is six months old and a booster administered at 12 months.”

According to the World Health Organisation, measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children, even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.

Measles vaccinations resulted in a 79 per cent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2015 worldwide, the organisation said.

“During 2000 and 2015, measles vaccinations prevented 20.3 million deaths worldwide,” the MMC said.

Visit your nearest health care facility if you have any signs and symptoms of measles.

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  AUTHOR
Chantelle Fourie

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