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Four cases of measles outbreak confirmed in Gauteng

Karabo Ledwaba Journalist
Measles cases are on the rise globally, including in wealthy nations such as the United States and Germany.
Measles cases are on the rise globally, including in wealthy nations such as the United States and Germany.
Image: 123RF/Oksana Tkachuk

SA has confirmed four cases of measles in Gauteng. The cases were identified in the last two weeks of May.

In a statement released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the organisation  said measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread through respiratory droplets from infected individuals when coughing or sneezing.

Some of the signs include a cough, conjunctivitis, coryza, fever, fatigue, muscle pain and  rash.

“Children under  one year of age may develop complicated measles including bronchopneumonia, keratoconjunctivitis, and rarely, encephalitis. These complications may lead to irreversible damage and or death, especially in immunocompromised or malnourished children.

"Furthermore, even healthy children who develop measles develop transient immunosuppression and are more susceptible to common childhood illnesses for at least one year after infection,” read the statement.

Currently all cases have been found in Gauteng and are under quarantine.

“Confirmed through laboratory testing by the NICD. Three cases are known to be epidemiologically linked, and are residents in south-western Tshwane. The fourth case is resident on the West Rand of Gauteng province. All cases are presently isolated and are recovering,” read the statement.

Dr Nishi Prabdial-Sing from NICD said after the onset of a rash patients must be quarantined between  four and six days, and if they are immunocompromised they can be quarantined up to a week.

The NICD said they are currently contact-tracing and offering vaccinations.

“Health authorities in the affected districts and communities are working together to identify contacts, promote/offer vaccination, and/or conduct vaccination of contacts. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), two or more cases of measles in a health district within one month is regarded as a measles outbreak.”

They said social distancing and hand-washing may not be sufficient to prevent transmission of the disease.

"Measles is preventable through a safe and effective vaccine. Caregivers and mothers are urged to ensure that children are up to date with their routine vaccinations. According to the South African Expanded Programme on immunisation (EPI), children are given the MeasBio® (Biovac) vaccine at  six months old and a booster at 12 months old.

"These vaccines are available free of charge at public health facilities. The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) is also available, at a cost, in private sector clinics and is equally effective and safe,” read the statement.

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