The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa , along with the Gauteng Department of Health report over the last two weeks of May 2022, four laboratory-confirmed cases of measles from persons resident in Gauteng.
Three cases are known to be epidemiologically linked, and are resident in south-western Tshwane. The fourth case is resident on the West Rand of Gauteng Province.
All cases are presently isolated and are recovering. Health authorities in the affected districts and communities are working together to identify contacts, promote/offer vaccination, and/or conduct vaccination of contacts. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), two or more cases of measles in a health district within one month is regarded as a measles outbreak.
The Gauteng Department of Health is working together with City of Tshwane and the West Rand district health teams, the National Department of Health, the NICD, and WHO staff members to investigate and respond to the outbreak.
Measles is a highly contagious disease and it spreads through infectious airborne respiratory droplets from infected persons when coughing or sneezing. Measles commonly presents with respiratory tract symptoms and any of the three C’s: conjunctivitis, cough, and coryza. Other symptoms can include fever, fatigue, and muscle pain, which typically appear before the onset of the disease’s characteristic maculopapular rash. Children under 1 year of age may develop complicated measles including bronchopneumonia, keratoconjunctivitis, and rarely, encephalitis. These complications may lead to irreversible damage and or death, especially in immunocompromised or malnourished children. Furthermore, even healthy children who develop measles develop transient immunosuppression and are more susceptible to common childhood illnesses for at least one year after infection.
Non-pharmaceutical measures such as social distancing and hand-washing might not be sufficient to prevent transmission of the measles virus. Measles is preventable through a safe and effective vaccine.