Measles outbreak on rise

THE outbreak of measles in Gauteng might spread to other provinces, the Department of Health said yesterday in a statement.

THE outbreak of measles in Gauteng might spread to other provinces, the Department of Health said yesterday in a statement.

"Measles is a highly infectious notifiable viral disease," the department.

The number of positive measles cases for the year to August 30 in South Africa has increased to 131 and 109 of these were in Gauteng.

Of the Gauteng cases 97 were from the Tshwane health district, the department said.

Sporadic cases had also been confirmed in Eastern Cape (three), Mpumalanga (eight), North West (one), Northern Cape (one) and Western Cape (five).

A number of cases were suspected, but not confirmed, in Limpopo.

The department said of these confirmed cases, ages were known for 124 and ranged from four months to 38 years, with a median age of 13 years.

"Measles commonly presents with high fever, a general feeling of unwellness, coughing, a runny nose and teary eyes two to three days before a typical rash appears," the department said.

"Though there is no rash at the onset of the fever and flu-like symptoms, the patient is highly contagious during this time before the rash appears."

A cough was usually present throughout the feverish period, persisting for one to two weeks in uncomplicated cases, often being the last symptom to disappear.

"Swelling of the glands commonly occurs in young children. Older children usually complain of sensitivity to light and joint pains," the department said.

According to the department the highest death rate occurred among infants of six to 11 months of age.

"These rates might underestimate the true lethality of measles because of incomplete reporting of the outcomes of measles illness, such as delayed deaths related to chronic diarrhoea."

The department said that one positive case of measles might quickly spread to up to 17 un-immunised cases in a short space of time, "because measles so easily spreads among groups, especially in schools and crèches". - Sapa

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