NICD declares a measles outbreak in Western Cape following spike in cases
The Western Cape Department of Health notes today’s alert by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to declare a measles outbreak in the Cape Metro district. Four laboratory-confirmed measles cases have been reported in the Cape Metro district from 24 January 2023 to 17 February 2023.
In line with the World Health Organization (WHO) International Health Regulations, a measles outbreak is defined as the occurrence of three or more confirmed measles cases (at least two of which should be laboratory-confirmed) in a health facility or district (approximate catchment population of 100 000) in a month.
Enhanced measles surveillance has been ramped up across the province. Healthcare workers at the Western Cape Department of Health and City of Cape Town are on alert to vaccinate all known contacts, and for anyone presenting at healthcare facilities with the signs and symptoms. Additionally, all children’s Road-to-health booklets are being checked to ensure their measles vaccinations are up-to-date.
Vaccination drives are currently under way in all districts of the province to contain the spread of measles, which is a preventable disease. To date, a total of 168 056 measles vaccines have been administered provincially since 6 February 2023. Children under the age of 15 are eligible and urged to get vaccinated. No child in school or crèche will be vaccinated unless his or her parent or legal guardian have given permission through signing a consent form.
“Parents and caregivers should be alert to the signs and symptoms. It is never too late to vaccinate against measles. Please do not delay in taking your children to the nearest clinic for vaccination, where the healthcare workers will assure them about the efficacy and safety of the measles vaccine. Through vaccination, we can protect our children, our families, and our communities from measles and other vaccine preventable diseases,” says Sonia Botha, the Western Cape’s coordinator of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).
Measles patients present with fever, rash, and one or more of these symptoms: cough, red eyes, and runny nose. Complications of measles include pneumonia, diarrhoea, dehydration, encephalitis, blindness, and possibly death. Measles complications are severe in malnourished children and young infants under two years of age.