SOUTH AFRICA – The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has announced that the Greater Sekhukhune District has stepped up its measles vaccination campaign with reinforcement from the Limpopo Health Department after an outbreak was detected in the area.

The public health institute further said that the Greater Sekhukhune District has started measles case finding and vaccination targeting children between six months and 15 years in an effort to contain the contagious viral disease.

As of 7th October 2022, 2,052 children have been vaccinated in Fetakgomo Tubatse Municipality and Elias Motsoaledi Local Municipality, where measles cases were detected,” the NICD said.

According to the NICD, health authorities in Limpopo declared a measles outbreak after three laboratory-confirmed cases from two healthcare facilities were reported in the Greater Sekhukhune District within 30 days.

The first two measles cases had an onset date of 22 and 25 September 2022, respectively. Meanwhile, the third case was reported on 2 October 2022.The measles cases were detected in children aged 11 years, a year old and 11 months, respectively,” the institute reported.

The institution further disclosed that out of the three laboratory-confirmed measles cases, two children have not been vaccinated for measles, while the other child’s vaccination status is unknown as the institute continues waiting for the updated report from Limpopo.

Subsequently, the NICD urged clinicians to be on the alert for measles cases, especially in Limpopo, as large measles outbreaks are occurring in sub-Saharan Africa while noting that measles vaccines are given routinely at six and 12 months of age.

A public health response investigation is needed to identify new measles cases and vaccination of the contacts to prevent the spread of the disease. Suspected measles cases should be notified on the NICD’s Notifiable Medical Conditions system,” the institute highlighted.

The institute further cautioned the general public that measles is highly infectious and spreads rapidly from person to person, adding that unvaccinated people of any age can catch measles and develop the disease.

Clinicians and caregivers should check children’s road-to-health booklets to ensure measles vaccinations are up to date. It is never too late to vaccinate against measles,” the NICD said.

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