Measle outbreak: New cases rising, SA now has 4 measle outbreaks hotspots
The health minister said outbreak teams ‘have been mobilised in line with response guidelines’. Here’s what you need to know.
Measles vaccines are given routinely at 6 and 12 months of age. Photo for illustration: iStock
On Thursday, Dr Phaahla briefed the media and confirmed a total of 137 cases have been reported in South Africa.
He said outbreak teams “have been mobilised in line with response guidelines and have implemented the necessary response measures”.
Measles outbreak in SA
Measle outbreaks have been recorded in four provinces between 11 October and 6 December 2022.
South African health officials reported elevated measles activity in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, with 99 cases reported between 1 September and 30 November.
Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for global coordinated and collaborative action to prioritise immunisation efforts of all unprotected children.
Cases by province:
As per WHO, an outbreak is defined if 3 cases or more are reported in a single district in one month.
New cases in a single month had been reported in the following provinces:
North West: 4
At the time of publishing, South Africa had recorded 367 laboratory-confirmed cases:
56 cases in the 5 to 9-year-old age group
40 cases in the 1 to 4-year-old age group
“Measles patients present with fever, rash, and one or more of these symptoms, cough, red eyes and runny nose. Complications of measles include pneumonia, diarrhoea, dehydration, encephalitis, blindness and death,” Phaahla explained.
“Measles complications are severe in malnourished children and young infants under 2 years of age. Persons of any age who are not vaccinated can be infected and develop the disease.”
He added: “Clinicians and caregivers should be on alert for anyone presenting with the aforementioned signs and symptoms. Road-to-health booklets should be checked to ensure measles vaccinations are up-to-date”.
Phaahla said the least-affected age-group is 0 to 1 year, “which suggests parents do take their babies for vaccination”.
Of the 367 cases in South Africa, 98 had an unknown vaccination status, 17 had a history of vaccination, and 22 were unvaccinated.
Phaahla said: “The number of measles cases in the country is rising. It is imperative to know the signs and symptoms”.
Back in November, WHO said a “record high of nearly 40 million children missed a measles vaccine dose”
Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that Covid-19 increased the risk of measles outbreaks since more than 61 million measles-containing vaccines were postponed to prioritise Covid immunisation.
In line with this, Dr Phaahla said contract tracing is ongoing and blood samples are being tested by the National Institute For Communicable Diseases Of South Africa (NICD).
He said a province-wide measles immunisation campaign kicked off in Limpopo on 23 November, specifically for children between the ages of 6 to 59 months.
The immunisation campaign will roll out in Mpumalanga in due course, and the National Mass Measles Immunisation Campaign (supported by WHO) will take place between 6 – 17 February 2023.