The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has declared a measles outbreak after three cases from two healthcare facilities were reported in the Greater Sekhukhune District, Limpopo, within 30 days.
“A measles outbreak is classified as three laboratory-confirmed measles cases reported within 30 days in a district, and a public health response investigation is needed to identify new measles cases and vaccination of the contacts to prevent the spread of the disease,” the NICD explained on Thursday.
According to the public health institute, the first two measles cases had an onset date of 22 and 25 September 2022, respectively. Meanwhile, the third case was reported on 2 October 2022.
The measles cases were detected in children aged 11 years, a year old and 11 months, respectively.
The NICD said two children have not been vaccinated for measles, while the other child’s vaccination status is unknown.
According to the NICD, the Greater Sekhukhune District, with the support of the Limpopo Health Department, started measles case finding and vaccination targeting children between six months and 15 years.
As of 7 October 2022, the NICD said, 2 052 children have been vaccinated in Fetakgomo Tubatse Municipality and Elias Motsoaledi Local Municipality, where measles cases were detected.
The NICD is waiting for the updated report from Limpopo.
The institution has since urged clinicians to be on the alert for measles cases, especially in Limpopo, as large measles outbreaks are occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.
Measles, according to the institute, presents with fever, malaise, cough, conjunctivitis, and a runny nose.
In addition, a maculopapular non-itchy, non-vesicular rash appears on the face, neck, trunk and limbs, usually on day four of the illness.
The NICD said other measles complications are pneumonia, scarring of the cornea, and rarely encephalitis.
“Measles is highly infectious and spreads rapidly from person to person,” the institute explained, adding that unvaccinated people of any age can catch measles and develop the disease.
“Clinicians and caregivers should check children’s road-to-health booklets to ensure measles vaccinations are up to date.”
Measles vaccines, according to the NICD, are given routinely at six and 12 months of age.
“It is never too late to vaccinate against measles.”
Suspected measles cases should be notified on the NICD’s Notifiable Medical Conditions system.