Vaccinate for measles before it’s too late

2009-11-03 08:25

EIGHT-month-old Kearebetswe Nthle and his twin brother Reamogetswe contracted measles last week.

Kearebetswe ended up on a drip in the George Mukhari ­Hospital in Ga-R­ankuwa, near Pretoria. Reamogetswe, who was not as sick as his brother, is recovering at home.

His mother, Nthabiseng, is an emotional wreck. “It is so emotionally draining,” she says. “I feel so sorry for my baby. He is so weak. It is terrible to see him on a drip.”

Babies receive their first measles vaccination at nine months and then a booster at 18 months.

The health department has told Nthabiseng to get everyone in her home vaccinated.

The department has embarked on a campain to get all South Africans vaccinated, says health department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe.

A striking feature of the latest outbreak, according to the department, is that while it has mostly affected children in poorer communities, it has also spread to children in relatively well-off communities, predominantly in the 15 to 19-year-old age group.

The department has urged all parents and guardians in Gauteng to ensure that their children are fully immunised against measles.

Hadebe said that all public health facilities provide free immunisation.

Parents must ensure that they give consent for their ­children to be vaccinated at schools.

The symptoms for measles are:

  •  High fever
  •  Flu-like symptoms, including cough, runny nose and ­watery red eyes
  •  Fine red rash, which usually appears behind the ears and on the face
  •  Swollen glands
  •  Sensitivity to light and joint pains
  •  Malnourished or vitamin-deficient children may develop severe skin exfoliation

Complications may include:
  •  Middle-ear infection
  •  Blindness
  •  Diarrhoea
  •  Dehydration
  •  Respiratory infections
  •  Pneumonia
  •  Neurological disorders
  •  Death

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