Measles outbreak in Gauteng

Measles outbreak in Gauteng
Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa

The Gauteng Health Department aims to vaccinate one million children between the ages of six months and 59 months following an outbreak of measles in the province.

Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa visited the Hillbrow Clinic in Johannesburg on Wednesday where measles immunisation took place. The MEC urged parents to regularly immunise their children to prevent sickness and diseases.

“Immunisation centres have been set up in all public health facilities, parental consent will be required for a child to be vaccinated in crèches and schools.

“It is important for parents to immunise their children to prevent them from being infected. We are here to support the process of eliminating the spread of Measles.

“Gauteng has 18 cases now confirmed, it is a crisis, and that is why we have this wide spread campaign. We want to see as many children immunised,” said MEC Ramokgopa, while interacting with parents at the clinic who heeded the call to immunise their children.

Measles infection amongst children in Gauteng increased this year as compared to 11 measles infections recorded in 2016.

Out of the 18 reported cases, 15 are in the Johannesburg region, two from Ekurhuleni one is from Pretoria. Only four of the 18 infected patients are adults.

Children between 6 months and five-years of age, as well as those up to 15 years were targeted in Johannesburg during the vaccination drive.

Senior Medical Advisor, Dr Chike Asomugha, said the Measles outbreak is an issue often exacerbated by parents who don’t immunise their children because of certain reasons like religion.

“Parents don’t like their children to be injected, majority of children infected are those (whose parents have) certain religious beliefs. Many people don’t want to vaccinate their children. We are a diverse country. Some children come from areas outside (Gauteng) and we can’t spot which children have been immunised or not.”

Asomugha said parents must look out for symptoms such as body rash, cough, and red watery eyes to detect whether their children are infected or not, to prevent the spread of the disease.

“It is spread through coughing, sneezing, fever and red teary eyes. It starts with a red rash over the body. It lasts for four days, followed by coughing and the eyes change in colour. Measles is infectious. We worry about it because it is associated with middle ear infection. It can also affect eyes causing blindness, infection of the brain and children can die,” he said.

Children between 6 months to 5-years as well as up to 15 years are targeted in Johannesburg for immunisation.

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