An outbreak of measles has been declared in KwaZulu-Natal Province. An increase in number of laboratory-confirmed measles cases was observed in Ethekwini and Umgungundlovu districts from July 2017.
As of 5 September 2017, a total of 23 laboratory-confirmed measles cases has been reported in four of the 11 districts in KwaZulu-Natal: Ethekwini (14), Umgungundlovu (6), ILembe (2) and Uthukela (1).
Many of the cases are among persons aged more than five years, outside the age groups that were targeted by the national measles vaccination campaign conducted recently in 2017. Furthermore, the majority of the cases are from the private sector and within communities that are hesitant to accept vaccination for religious reasons.
There have been concerns by some religious communities about the presence of porcine gelatin in the measles vaccine. Currently, public and private providers in South Africa use the MeasBio® (Biovac) vaccine. The MeasBio® (Biovac) vaccine contains porcine gelatine but it is currently the ONLY option available in South Africa. The previous vaccine for measles called Rouvax (Sanofi Pasteur) did not contain porcine gelatine but it is no longer manufactured.
Outbreak response activities are ongoing. Provincial and district outbreak response teams have met, and interventions are being planned, including targeted vaccination campaigns. Community engagement meetings are being held, and information, education and communication material are being disseminated. The public are urged to ensure that all children are up to date with vaccinations.
Health care workers should notify all suspected cases to district and provincial authorities, and should confirm each measles case through submission of a blood specimen and a completed case investigation form to the NICD, which provides testing free of charge.
Prior to the measles outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal Province, there have been two measles outbreaks in 2017: the first in Western Cape Province in January and the second in Gauteng Province in June.