Authorities all out to avert measles spread

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pretoria - As the number of measles infections continues to climb in Gauteng, authorities in the province are going all out to avert a further spread of the pandemic.

Social Development MEC Qedani Mahlangu on Monday joined health workers who were immunizing children against measles at Boipakitso Primary School in Soweto.

The initiative forms part of the provincial measles immunization campaign in response to the recent confirmed cases in the province. The campaign, which started last week, targets children from the ages of six months up to both primary and high schools.

Health workers pay visits to clinics, schools and crSches throughout the province for immunization.

"As another measure to ensure that the disease is contained, the department's Outbreak Response Team has alerted all clinicians, both in the private and public sector to be on a look out for any signs and symptoms from patients who present themselves at the health facilities," read a statement issued by the department.

It said infection control officers in all hospitals have also been requested to be on high surveillance for the disease and ongoing public education provided through clinics. Health promoters dispatched throughout the province are also focusing on measles.

Measles is a highly contagious but less lethal viral disease that spread through droplets of saliva and secretions from nose. The incubation period is usually 10 to 14 days. Worldwide outbreaks occur within the winter and spring seasons.

The symptoms include: running nose, cough, red eyes, fever and rashes. Complications include encephalitis (brain infection), pneumonia (lung infection), ear infections and deafness.

Members of the public who experience these signs and symptoms are urged to immediately visit their nearest clinic for tests and treatment. Mahlangu was accompanied by former Health Minister, now a Member of Parliament, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.