Measles outbreak declared in Cape Town

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has declared a measles outbreak in Cape Town after four cases were recorded from 24 January to 17 February 2023.

“Even though all the lab-confirmed measles were investigated, no epidemiological link could be established,” the national public health institute said.

However, according to the NICD, the cases meet the South African measles outbreak criteria based on the 2015 EPI Surveillance Manual.

A confirmed measles outbreak, according to World Health Organisation African Region, is the occurrence of three or more confirmed measles cases at least two of which should be laboratory-confirmed in a health facility in a month.

“The missing information of the laboratory-confirmed measles cases should be followed up, and all the contacts should be vaccinated against measles,” the NICD said, adding that clinicians and caregivers should check children’s road-to-health booklets to ensure measles vaccinations are up to date.

Meanwhile, the country has rolled out the National Measles Supplementary Immunisation campaign for children under the age of 15 on 6 February 2023, including the Western Cape.

The Department of Health, working closely with the sister departments of Basic Education and Social Development, provinces and various stakeholders have embarked on a nationwide child immunisation campaign to vaccinate children at schools, early childhood development centres and other public places.

The NICD said suspected measles cases should be screened using the measles case investigation form to check if they meet the suspected measles case definition before the measles samples are collected for laboratory confirmation.

According to the latest data, the NICD has recorded 506 laboratory-confirmed cases of measles since the outbreak of this highly contagious, but preventable disease caused by a virus which mainly spreads through infectious airborne respiratory droplets from infected persons when coughing or sneezing.

Measles presents with fever, malaise, cough, conjunctivitis, and a runny nose.

A maculopapular non-itchy, non-vesicular rash appears on the face, neck, trunk, and limbs, usually on day four of the illness.

Other measles complications are pneumonia, scarring of the cornea, and rarely encephalitis.

“Measles is highly infectious and spreads rapidly from person to person.”

People of any age who are unvaccinated can catch measles, while measles vaccines are given routinely at six and 12 months of age.

“It is never too late to vaccinate against measles,” the NICD stressed.

Source: South African Government News Agency