Health Department reports measles outbreak

Another measles outbreak has hit Mpumalanga. Three laboratories confirmed they have detected measles cases in the Ehlanzeni district.

The department discovered the cases between November 1 to 10 through routine measles surveillance. Ehlanzeni District borders two districts of Limpopo, Sekhukhune and Mopani, which experienced outbreaks.

The first laboratory-confirmed a case of an 18-month-old baby diagnosed in Lydenburg Hospital. A three-year-old toddler and a six-year-old child are in Bushbuckridge. The department identified 23 contacts of the first two index cases. 13 of the 23 contacts were symptomatic, and tests were conducted and came back negative. The latest laboratory test is still under investigation and not yet concluded.

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The Department says it is on high alert and has put strategies in place to contain and prevent the further spread of the outbreak, including the following among others:

• Outbreak response teams have been activated. Clinicians were trained on vaccine-preventable diseases

• Measles surveillance strengthened. Scale up catch-up measles campaigns in the province

• Community awareness has been created. Case investigation and contact tracing have been identified any new measles cases.

• A measles vaccination catch-up dose is being given in all healthcare facilities for the children who missed the measles vaccination to increase immunity in the communities.

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Symptoms include fever, malaise, cough, conjunctivitis, and a runny nose. A maculopapular non-itchy, non-vesicular rash appears on the face, neck, trunk, and limbs, usually one day four of the illness. Other measles complications are pneumonia, scarring of the cornea (kerato-conjunctivitis), and rarely encephalitis. Measles are highly infectious and spread rapidly from person to person. Persons of any age who are not vaccinated can catch measles.

Health MEC Sasekani Manzini urges parents and caregivers to take their children to the nearest health facilities for routine immunisation. This is to ensure measles vaccinations are up to date. Health facilities administer vaccines at the ages of 6 and 12 months. It is never too late to vaccinate against measles.

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