The Mozambican Health Ministry announced recently plans to battle two devastating infectious diseases in the southeast Africa country- rotavirus and trachoma.
Health officials announced they will be vaccinating some 335,000 children against rotavirus in a national vaccination campaign that will last through December. The national director for Immunization Programme Graca Matsinhe said, “The vaccine against rotavirus will greatly contribute to a reduction in mortality and morbidity among young children and expect a decline in the number of children hospitalized because of the serious dehydration caused by diarrhea.
“The vaccine can reduce severe gastroenteritis among the target age group by 90 per cent.”
Children will be given two doses of the oral vaccine. No child above seven months old will receive the vaccine.
Rotavirus is responsible for the death of over 600,000 children annually worldwide. Once a person has been exposed to rotavirus, it takes about 2 days for symptoms to appear.
Rotavirus is shed (passed from a person’s body into the environment) in feces (stool) of infected persons. The virus spreads by the fecal-oral route; this means that the virus must be shed by an infected person and then enter a susceptible person’s mouth to cause infection.
Rotavirus vaccination is the best way to protect children against rotavirus disease. The vaccines are very effective at preventing severe rotavirus disease in infants and young children.
In addition, health officials will also begin a mass campaign against the bacterial eye disease, trachoma, later this month. Trachoma is endemic in 36 of Mozambique’s 151 districts and deputy national director of public health, Quinhas Fernandes said the anti-trachoma campaign should reach over 2.4 million people.
Trachoma is responsible for an estimated 7-8 million cases of permanent blindness particularly in the Middle East and Africa.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today
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