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South Africans are rocked by the measles outbreak

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By Kouthar Sambo

South Africa is rocked by the measles outbreak currently declared in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, the Free State, and the North West, leaving residents in the Western Cape vulnerable with many unanswered questions.

According to the Chief Operations Officer of the Western Cape Department of Health, Dr. Saadiq Kariem, the Western Cape has not declared an outbreak.

“For children returning to school this week, it is a high risk for all the provinces around the country. We have heightened the surveillance during this period, but we have not declared an outbreak in the Western Cape yet.”

However, parents must remain aware of tell-tale signs in their children and themselves, as adults can transmit the virus to children.

Kariem went on to explain that the virus is highly contagious and that it appears around 7 to 14 days after contact, “Generally, people will initially present a high fever, with a cough and runny nose. But the typical measles rash you find clinically appears about three to five days after the first symptoms. You don’t initially have the rash, which is why it spreads so quickly – people think it’s just the flu. The rash generally starts in the face as a flat red spot, and spreads downwards from the face,” Kariem reiterated.

He further advised on the importance of measle vaccinations, whether tested clinically or laboratory. Diagnosis for measles is much like a covid test, Kariem explains, where a Nasopharyngeal is sent to the laboratory for proper testing – this would be a lab-confirmed case of measles.

“If you have the measles rash, visit your closest GP or clinic, and present yourself there. The more we know about it, the better we can prevent it. Once you have measles, please stay home. The contagious period is from four days before the rash appears to four days after the rash.”

Photo: Pixabay

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