HEALTH ALERT: NICD reports measles outbreak in Limpopo, Mpumalanga

Of the confirmed measles cases, 86% have an unknown measles vaccination history. File Picture

Of the confirmed measles cases, 86% have an unknown measles vaccination history. File Picture

Published Nov 18, 2022


Cape Town - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has reported a measles outbreak in the Greater Sekhukhune District in Limpopo.

According to the NICD’s spokesperson, Sinenhlanhla Jimoh from September 1 to November 16, 57 measles cases were reported in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

“Capricorn and Waterberg districts in Limpopo province and Ehlanzeni in Mpumalanga province reported three or more laboratory-confirmed measles cases within 30 days in the district that meets the criteria for declaring a measles outbreak.

“Laboratory-confirmed measles cases in Limpopo province have increased to 52 measles cases since the beginning of the measles outbreak, and laboratory-confirmed measles cases are increasing in Capricorn, Greater Sekhukhune, Mopani, and Waterberg districts. Vhembe district reported two laboratory-confirmed measles cases.” Jimoh said.

She said one of the measles cases was epidemiologically linked to Zimbabwe.

Over the past week, seven cases of measles were reported in the Bushbuckridge area of Ehlanzeni district in Mpumalanga.

“Ehlanzeni district shares the border with Greater Sekhukhune and Mopani districts which were the first districts to declare measles outbreaks. The spread of measles cases in Limpopo province and Ehlanzeni district, Mpumalanga province, poses the risk of measles spread.

“The sporadic laboratory-confirmed measles cases were reported in Northern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Free State, and the Western Cape provinces,” Jimoh said.

She said cases were identified in children between six months and two years old in the Greater Sekhukhune district and between two and 42 years old in the Mpani district.

In Ehlanzeni, measles cases were reported in children between the ages of 18 months and 10 years old.

No deaths or complications have been reported after two children were discharged from the hospital.

Jimoh said districts affected by the outbreak continue with the public health response in tracing laboratory-confirmed measles cases and vaccinating the contacts.

“In healthcare facilities, catch-up measles vaccine doses are given to children who missed their measles vaccinations to increase immunity in the community.

“The public health response to the measles outbreak in Limpopo province should target improving measles immunity.

“Vaccination of measles case contacts is necessary in Ehlanzeni district for laboratory-confirmed measles cases to prevent the spread of the measles virus.

“To prevent the spread of the measles virus in other provinces, the sporadic measles case contacts should be traced and given measles vaccine doses per the National Measles Surveillance Guidelines,” she said.

Of the confirmed measles cases, 86% have an unknown measles vaccination history.

The affected districts in Limpopo are continuing with the investigation of measles cases and vaccination of measles contacts.

Measles catchup vaccinations continue at healthcare facilities for children who missed the routine measles vaccination doses.

What are the symptoms?

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Cough
  • Red eyes
  • Running nose

The NICD said complications from measles include pneumonia, diarrhoea, dehydration, encephalitis, blindness and death.

It said measles complications were severe in malnourished children and infants under two years old.

“Persons of any age who are not vaccinated can catch measles and develop the disease. “Clinicians and caregivers should be on alert for anyone presenting with the above symptoms and signs and check children’s road-to-health booklets to ensure measles vaccinations are up to date.

“Measles vaccine doses are given routinely at six and 12 months of age. It is never too late to vaccinate against measles,” Jimoh added.

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