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Health minister calls for calm after four measles cases detected in Gauteng

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Health minister Dr Joe Phaahla on Monday called for calm and vigilance after government detected four cases of measles in Gauteng.

These cases were found during routine surveillance activities aimed at detecting, investigating and responding to suspected cases of this vaccine-preventable disease.

The department of health said in the last two weeks of May four suspected cases of measles were detected in Gauteng and confirmed through laboratory testing by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Three of these cases were individuals living in Tshwane, which meant the city was experiencing an outbreak.

The fourth case was an individual living on the West Rand. All four were in isolation and recovering.

The health authorities in the affected districts and communities were working together to identify and conduct vaccination of contacts.

Phaahla urged parents and caregivers to ensure their children were up-to-date with their vaccinations in line with the vaccination schedule against measles and other childhood diseases.

“Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus which mainly spreads through infectious airborne respiratory droplets from infected people when coughing or sneezing.

“However, the measles vaccine has been in use for almost 60 years and is the best protection against this life-threatening childhood disease. It is safe, effective and available free of charge at public health facilities,” Phaahla said.

Measles symptoms include fever, red eyes, runny nose and a cough which typically appear before the onset of the disease’s characteristic maculopapular rash.

Children, especially those under one year, may develop complicated measles which may include pneumonia, eye complications and, rarely, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

The department said unvaccinated young children were at highest risk of measles and its complications.

Officials were working closely with the Gauteng health department, the City of Tshwane, the NICD and other stakeholders, including the World Health Organisation and Unicef to investigate and respond to the outbreak.

The response includes increased surveillance and vigilance throughout the province.

According to the SA expanded programme on immunisation, children are given measles vaccines at six months and 12 months of age. These vaccines are available free of charge at public health facilities.

Measles is a notifiable medical condition in terms of the National Health Act and clinicians have been alerted on the symptoms to look for.

Source: TimesLIVE

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