Free State sees spike in number of reported measles cases

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Measles cases are on the rise in the Free State, according to the province's health department. Photo: iStock
Measles cases are on the rise in the Free State, according to the province's health department. Photo: iStock


The Free State health department has embarked on an intensive measles awareness campaign, as the province is reported to have recorded 22 cases so far.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape reported that it was scaling up the immunisation of children aged from six months to 15 years, after it had recorded two measles cases.

Free State health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said the cases were recorded in four districts and most numbers came from Thabo Mofutsanyana, with 12 cases reported in Bethlehem, one in Qwaqwa, and one each in Reitz, Clocolan and Warden.

Mvambi said the Fezile Dabi district also had a spike in measles cases - with one in Frankfort and three in Kroonstad.

Welkom and Springfontein have recorded one case each. As a result, the department has unleashed the immunisation programme in accordance with the road to health booklet, as part of encouraging parents, caregivers, guardians and the community to ensure that all children from six months to 15 years are immunised. In another step, contact tracing and screening of affected children is being done by the district disease outbreak response team to manage the outbreak in the affected towns.

Mvambi said the Free State was implementing a comprehensive response to the measles outbreak and an awareness campaign that should sufficiently empower the community with information, as well as make the public an integral part of the response.

“Our steps taken to address the outbreak are to intensify community education and awareness through health promotion teams regarding adherence to the routine immunisation schedule, and alerts have been issued to facilities to intensify identification of cases,” Mvambi said.

READ: 137 cases of measles reported in SA since October - Phaahla

He added that the education department had issued an alert of the campaign and teachers were requested to be on the alert for pupils who had a fever at 38°C, general rash, cough, runny nose and redness of the eye.

Eastern Cape health department spokesperson Mkhululi Ndamase said the province had recorded two cases in Nelson Mandela Bay, where a 14-year-old girl had just returned from Zanzibar, and a four-year-old in King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality. He mentioned:

After the two cases were recorded, children who were six months to 15 years and lived within a 5km radius of the areas where the cases were recorded were immunised to prevent the further spread of the highly infectious disease.

Ndamase said health teams had also visited schools to offer the jab and only pupils whose parents or guardians had signed consent forms had been immunised at schools.

Eastern Cape Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth said 162 vehicles had been hired to be used for measles immunisation.

“We have also trained 436 nurses who have been working in communities, vaccinating children and encouraging parents to get their children protected against measles. Measles is one of the highly contagious diseases and is more easily spread in children under five years and children with comorbidities,” Meth explained.

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