More cases of measles reported – who is at risk?

12 May 2017

Parents and guardians are urged to have their kids vaccinated against measles at their nearest clinic.

Two confirmed case of measles have been reported in the Pretoria area and 15 cases in the rest of Gauteng, according to Pretoria community newspaper Record Centurion.

Parents and guardians are urged to have their kids vaccinated against measles at their nearest clinic.

Why is it so important to report cases of measles and combat the disease?

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says measles is a viral infection that spreads from person to person in saliva through coughing and sneezing or close contact with someone with the disease.

In addition, the measles virus can survive for many hours on surfaces. By drinking from the same glass or using the same cutlery as someone with measles your risk of getting the virus increases.

Some people never fully recover from the side effects of measles.

Complications include lung infections (pneumonia), diarrhoea, dehydration, blindness, brain infection (encephalitis) and even death.

In 2014 the World Health Organisation announced that measles is one of the main causes of child mortality. Of the 114 900 people who succumbed to the disease that year, the majority of victims were under the age of five. In 2015 deaths related to measles increased to 134 200.

Measles are especially prevalent in parts of Africa and Asia. Young children that haven’t been inoculated against the virus are much more at risk of getting the disease than those who’ve been inoculated.

Can adults get measles?

Definitely. But it’s normally more common in children less than a year old. Adults who have been exposed to someone with measles are advised to have a booster inoculation. Pregnant women are also at risk of getting measles.

More about measles in South Africa

Between March and April 2017, 17 cases of measles were reported in Gauteng. It followed an outbreak of measles in the Western Cape between January and February involving 31 cases.

Learners at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch were unable to take part in sports meetings or, cultural and academic events for four weeks.

Between January and April cases were reported as follows in other provinces: North West (4), Eastern Cape (1), Mpumalanga (1) and Limpopo (1).

Mass inoculation campaign in 2017

Countrywide children aged six months to five years will be inoculated against measles. At this stage inoculation is scheduled to take place during these periods, but it could change soon:

Gauteng – until 26 May.

National campaign in the rest of the country: 12 – 30 June.

Symptoms of measles

Measles symptoms usually appear within 14 days of being exposed to the virus.

It includes:

1. Coughing, fever, inflamed eyes, sensitivity to light, muscle pain, sore throat and white spots in the mouth.

2. A spreading rash is typically a sign of measles. The rash can last for up to seven days. It normally appears in the first three to five days after being exposed to the virus.

3. The rash of red, itchy spots usually starts on the head and spreads to other parts of the body.

4. Measles can have serious side effects, like pneumonia and blindness, and can even result in death.

Caring at home for a child with measles:

1. Keep the child away from others to prevent the disease spreading.

2. Keep them isolated for at least four days after the first signs of the rash appear.

3. Let them stay in a dark room, away from sunlight.

4. Give plenty fluids and healthy food.

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