Measles outbreak in Joburg

2009-09-29 11:01

Johannesburg - There is an outbreak of measles in Johannesburg, with 48 cases reported this month, the City of Johannesburg said on Tuesday.

"Since the beginning of September, 48 measles cases have been reported in Johannesburg. All the regions in the city are affected by the outbreak," said spokesperson Nkosinathi Nkabinde.

From January to August there were 11 cases of confirmed measles reported.

"Some of the persons affected had one or two doses of measles vaccine, meaning all persons are at risk of contracting measles." Anyone with a fever, rash, running nose, red infected eyes or cough should be investigated for measles.

Possible death

"Measles is a serious disease that can cause blindness, deafness, brain damage, pneumonia and even death," said Nkabinde.

"Measles can affect anyone, including adults. All cases of suspected measles must be reported to the health department as failure to control the spread of measles will result in unnecessary suffering and even death."

The health department will immunise all identified cases at home, school and at the workplace.

The vaccine must be administered as soon as possible after exposure to be effective, Nkabinde said.

"Although the first measles vaccination given at nine months protects infants, immunity acquired is not optimal due to the presence of maternal antibodies.


"The second dose administered at 18 months of age, provides another chance to protect the children against measles, especially for those children who did not respond to the first dose of the vaccine.

"About one of every 10 children does not respond to the first dose of vaccine."

Nkabinde said the second dose also served as a booster to increase antibody levels in those with low antibody levels. After the second dose, 99% of children are protected against measles.

"Additional doses, such as doses given during national campaigns, improve immunity against the disease.

"Parents who have younger children who are not attending school should please ensure that these children are fully immunised. If you are not certain that your child is fully immunised, please visit your local clinic."

Members of the public, especially medical personnel, traditional healers and training institutions, were urged to report all cases of suspected measles.