Gauteng worst hit by spreading measles

THE number of people who have contracted measles continues to increase.

THE number of people who have contracted measles continues to increase.

More than 1100 cases have been reported across the country, with 80percent being recorded in Gauteng.

A measles campaign was launched on October 12 and targets children from the age of six months. During the campaign health workers will visit clinics, schools and crèches throughout the province, where immunisation will continue to take place.

Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang yesterday visited schools in Soweto as part of a provincial measles immunisation campaign.

Mahlangu and Tshabalala-Msimang joined health workers who were immunising children at the Boepakitso Primary School in Diepkloof.

Education department spokesperson Mandla Sidu said: "As another measure to ensure that the disease is contained, the department's outbreak response team has alerted all clinicians, both in the private and public sector, to be on the lookout for any signs and symptoms from patients who present themselves at health facilities.

"Infection control officers at all hospitals have also been requested to be on high alert while ongoing public education will be provided through clinics. Health promoters will also be dispatched throughout the province.

"Measles is a highly contagious but less lethal viral disease that spreads through droplets of saliva and secretions from the nose. The incubation period is usually 10 to 14 days. Worldwide outbreaks occur during spring and winter," Sidu said.

Symptoms include a running nose, coughs, red eyes, fever and rashes. Complications include encephalitis (brain infection), pneumonia (lung infection), ear infections and deafness.

Members of the public who experience these signs and symptoms are urged to immediately visit their nearest clinic or doctor for tests and treatment.