Nurse urges parents to make sure kids vaccinated as City of Tshwane, Gauteng warn of measles outbreak

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The National Health Department reported on Monday that the City of Tshwane was experiencing an outbreak of measles.
The National Health Department reported on Monday that the City of Tshwane was experiencing an outbreak of measles.
WLADIMIR BULGAR/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Red eyes, a cough, fever, or a runny nose typically appear before the onset of a reddish-brown skin rash. 

It typically starts on the face and works its way down the body over a few days.

From the neck to the torso, arms, and legs – all the way down until it finally reaches the feet. Eventually, your body is covered with spots of reddish-brown coloured bumps, lasting for five or six days.

Measles are high contagious and caused by a virus which mainly spreads through infectious airborne respiratory droplets when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.

The disease hasn’t been a cause for concern in years, however, the recent outbreak has parents and caregivers alarmed. 

Read more | Get vaccinated says Miss Supranational SA Dr Thato Mosehle – ‘We know what Covid-19 can do to people’

On Monday, the National Department reported that the City of Tshwane was experiencing an outbreak of measles. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warn that measles cases have increased by 79% worldwide, in the first two months of 2022.

Health Minister, Joe Phaahla has called for calm and vigilance and urged parents to ensure that their children were up to date with their vaccinations in line with the vaccination schedule against measles and other childhood diseases.

There has been a rapid increase in cases. Here's what to know if you're concerned.  

ENSURE KIDS ARE VACCINATED

Nursing sister Nomvo Makata explains that children receive their first dose of the vaccine against measles as early as 6 months and their second dose at 12 months. 

Whilst vaccinated children are less vulnerable, "the vaccine doesn't necessarily mean you can never get measles," she explains, “it just means your immunity has antibodies to recognise the measles virus enabling your system to fight off the measles virus more effectively and prevents the complications that could lead to death.”

The nurse adds that children who are not vaccinated against measles as per the prescribed vaccination programme are very vulnerable to getting and spreading measles.

"Because measles is highly contagious, when vaccinated children get into contact with a child who has measles they will get them, including adults but fortunately if an individual is fully vaccinated their immune system has a betting chance of fighting the disease,” she explains.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUPSECT YOUR OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS IT

Nomvo who has treated many children with the disease explains that measles are classified as a notifiable communicable disease, which simply means if in a particular district they diagnose a case of someone who has measles, they should inform health authorities since it is highly contagious.

“Measles is contagious, the infected person must be isolated and separated from others. Then the presenting symptoms must be attended to and their immunity must also be boosted for the body to be able to fight the disease,” says the nurse shares.

The four individuals that have been identified to have measles in Gauteng and the City of Tshwane are said to be currently isolated and recovering, an effective measure to curb the spread of the disease.

Read more | Here’s why you need to vaccinate your kids

Vaccination of children in the country is free in public clinics, but people can also go to the nearest pharmacies and private doctors/clinics for medical care.

The nurse advises that children need several vaccinations to increase their survival chances in life "from TB, and polio to mention a few".

"But some people for whatever reasons choose not to vaccinate their kids. In some primary schools, children are only admitted on proof that they are vaccinated but still it is not yet a crime for parents to refuse to vaccinate their kids," however, she urges children to be vaccinated to protect others against the highly contagious disease.  

Measles symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention

Symptoms 

  • White spots inside the mouth
  • Water and reddish eyes
  • High temperatures (fever and a cough)
  • Runny nose
  • Reddish-brown Rash

Causes

The highly contagious disease is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family. It infects the respiratory tract first and eventually spreads to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.

It is spread by coughing and sneezing, and close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.

Treatment

There's no specific antiviral treatment that exists for measles virus. Good nutrition, adequate fluid intake and treatment of dehydration are recommended. Antibiotics should be prescribed to treat eye and ear infections, and pneumonia.

Children diagnosed with measles should receive two doses of vitamin A supplements. 

Prevention 

Routine measles vaccination for children plus mass immunisation are suggested to prevent the disease.

Additional Sources, WHO, Healthline, Medecins Sans, Frontieres 

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