South Africa has eight new laboratory-confirmed measles cases, five of which were detected in Limpopo, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Friday.
According to the latest data, the national public health institute tested 5 853 serum samples for measles since the outbreak was declared in October last year in all the provinces in South Africa, except for the Eastern Cape. Of these, 976 were confirmed positive.
“The measles strain detected in Limpopo province and North West province is genotype D8, which is similar to the strain in Zimbabwe in the 2022 outbreak,” the institute explained.
Citing the statistics, the NICD Limpopo has recorded 410 cases, 108 in Mpumalanga, 216 in the North West, 166 in Gauteng, 29 in Free State, 20 in KwaZulu-Natal, 14 in the Western Cape, and seven in the Northern Cape.
In addition, in the provinces where an outbreak has been declared, the most affected age groups are still the five to nine-year-olds (43%), with a considerable proportion of cases reported among the one to four-year-olds and 10 to 14 age groups (20%).
Meanwhile, the NICD reported that the percentage of samples testing positive (PTP) decreased from 20% of 83 samples tested in the previous week to 14% of 53 samples tested recently.
Overall, the NICD said the incidence of measles appears to be decreasing across the country.
“However, Limpopo has remained stable and largely contributed to the increased number of cases seen in the previous week. Continuous surveillance for measles cases is recommended.”
The NICD said prevention and control of measles outbreaks can only be achieved through vaccination.
Measles patients present with fever, rash and one or more of these symptoms, including cough, red eyes and runny nose.
Complications of measles include pneumonia, diarrhoea, dehydration, encephalitis, blindness and death.
Measles complications are severe in malnourished children and young infants under two years of age.
People of any age who are unvaccinated can contract measles and develop the disease.
The institute said the national measles vaccination coverage remains low and it is never too late to take the jab.
Children over the age of six months to 15 years are targeted in the National supplemental immunisation campaign rolled out in all provinces on 6 February 2023.
“The NICD continues to report on a large number of cases with unknown vaccination status. We urge the district and province to complete vaccine status on the investigation forms for completeness of data.”
Clinicians across the country are urged to be on the lookout for measles cases.
In addition, healthcare workers are encouraged to submit reports on any adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) through the Med Safety application (https://medsafety.sahpra.org.za/) or submit a case reporting form to their district surveillance officer.
Source: South African Government News Agency