The North West Department of Health MEC Madoda Sambatha makes a humble plea with parents and caregivers to take their children for immunisation against Measles at their nearest healthcare facilities. The outbreak of Measles was first confirmed in the Ngaka Modiri Molema District by the Centre for Vaccines & Immunology (CVI) and National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on 02 December 2022.
“To date, the North West Province has 36 confirmed cases of Measles with Ngaka Modiri Molema 29 cases, Bojanala 3, Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati 2 and Dr Kenneth Kaunda District 2. This situation is alarming and we urge our community to take action and protect their children by them to healthcare facilities and immunisation outreach campaigns rolled out throughout the Province” pleaded MEC Madoda Sambatha
Measles is a highly infectious notifiable viral disease. Measles commonly presents with high fever, a general feeling of unwellness, coughing, a runny nose and teary eyes two to three days before a typical rash appears. Although there is no rash at the onset of the fever and flu-like symptoms, the patient is highly contagious during this time before the rash appears. A non-productive cough is usually present throughout the feverish period, persisting for one to two weeks in uncomplicated cases, often being the last symptom to disappear. Swelling of the glands commonly occurs in young children. Older children usually complain of sensitivity to light and joint pains. Koplik's spots (small spots with white or bluish-white centres resembling "grains of salt sprinkled on a red background") may be seen on the insides of the cheeks in over 80% of cases before the onset of the rash. A blotchy red rash usually appears behind the ears and on the face within two to four days after the pre-rash feverish period. The rash peaks in two to three days and becomes most concentrated on the trunk and upper extremities. It lasts from three to seven days. Malnourished or vitamin-deficient children may develop severe skin exfoliation.
Complications may include middle-ear infection, blindness, diarrhoea, dehydration, respiratory infections, pneumonia, neurological complications such as convulsions, and even death. The highest death rates occur in infants 6 to 11 months of age. These rates may underestimate the true lethality of measles because of incomplete reporting of the outcomes of measles illness, such as delayed deaths related to chronic diarrhoea. In certain high-risk populations case fatality rates as high as 20% or 30% have been reported in infants younger than 1 year old. Measles can also cause severe illness in children, and also in adults. One positive case of measles may quickly spread to up to 17 unprotected/unimmunised cases in a short period of time. Because measles so easily spreads among groups of people, especially in schools and crèches, it is absolutely important to protect groups of children/people by immunisation/ vaccination with a safe measles vaccine.
“The Department has enough vaccine to deal with Measles in the Province therefore we urge our community to share the message and raise awareness about this outbreak and mobilize for more children to be protected through immunisation” MEC Sambatha concluded.
ISSUED BY NORTH WEST DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH