Phaahla concerned about rising number of measles cases in SA

Thursday, December 8, 2022

The number of laboratory-confirmed measles cases now stands at 137 in Limpopo as of 6 December 2022, Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, has announced.

This comes as the Limpopo and Mpumalanga departments declared a measles outbreak.

Updating the media on the progress on various health issues on Thursday, Phaahla said Limpopo and Mpumalanga have since reported 89 and 40 cases, respectively.

Another outbreak was declared in the North West on 2 December 2022 after three cases were reported, while three cases were detected in Gauteng on 6 December. 

“The number of measles cases in the country is rising, and so far, four out of nine provinces have outbreaks,” the Minister warned.

According to Phaahla, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines a measles outbreak as three cases reported in a single district in one month.  

“It is imperative to know the signs and symptoms,” he stressed, adding that patients present signs of fever or rash.

They may also have one or more symptoms, including a cough, red eyes, and a runny nose.

In addition, complications of measles include pneumonia, diarrhoea, dehydration, encephalitis, blindness and death.

“Measles complications are severe in malnourished children and young infants under two years of age.”

Meanwhile, people of any age who are unvaccinated can be infected and develop the disease.

The age of patients across the country range from two months to 42 years old, while the dominant age category of laboratory-confirmed cases is the five to nine-year age group, which accounts for 56 cases.

The age group is followed by one to four years, which accounts for 40 cases and the least affected age group is zero to one year, which suggests that parents do take their babies for vaccination.

Of the 137 cases, 98 had an unknown vaccination status, 17 were immunised, and 22 were unvaccinated. 

He urged clinicians and caregivers to be on the alert for anyone presenting with the aforementioned signs and symptoms.

In addition, he said, Road-to-Health booklets should be checked to ensure measles vaccinations are up-to-date.  

Phaahla told the media that provincial and district outbreak teams have been mobilised in line with outbreak response guidelines and have implemented the necessary response measures.

“Contact tracing and active case searches at healthcare facilities are ongoing and blood samples from suspected measles cases are being forwarded to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).”

In addition, province-wide measles immunisation campaigns have started in Limpopo and Mpumalanga is following suit, Phaahla added.

The Minister also announced that the National Mass Measles Immunisation Campaign, supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is planned for 6 to 17 February 2023. –


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