Measles outbreak ‘under control’

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Measles outbreak ‘under control’

ONGWEDIVA – The health ministry has confirmed a total of 23 suspected cases of measles that have been reported in the Omusati region early this month.

Measles is a highly contagious disease, caused by a virus of the paramyxovirus family, and the infection is spread mainly through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.  

According to a report from the health ministry, 14 cases were from the Outapi district at a school in Olukekete village, eight were from Tsandi and one from the Okahao district.

“Out of the cases investigated, five were laboratory confirmed, while one was classified as compatible after testing equivocal (regarded as positive) and could not be retested due to prolonged onset of symptoms, some cases that have not been classified as awaiting results from NIP laboratory,” reads the statement.

The report further states that, of the laboratory confirmed cases, four are linked to a school near the Namibia/Angola border.

In addition, two cases (1 positive and another 1 classified as compatible) originate from Omakange village in the Tsandi district.

“At present, the number of cases in Tsandi district has not reached the outbreak threshold. The age of all confirmed cases is below 15 years, ranging between five months and 12 years. Four are females and two are males. They are all currently in stable condition, and none are admitted to a health facility. No deaths are reported, linked to the outbreak,” according to the report.

The ministry’s executive director, Ben Nangombe, told New Era the situation is under control, and they will keep monitoring the cases.

“Our health system has proven its efficiency. That is why we have detected the cases at an early stage – and through our current awareness programmes, we aim to tackle the outbreak,” he said.

Asked if the outbreak will put a strain on the health system capacities amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Nangombe said: “Not necessarily; we have it all under control, and we are urging the public to continue getting vaccinated and maintain good hygiene and sanitation to reduce the infections of this outbreak.”

According to the public notice from the ministry, people at higher risk of measles and its complications, including death, are the unvaccinated young children, unvaccinated pregnant women and any immunosuppressed person. At the moment, there is no specific treatment for measles; however, it can be reduced through supportive care that ensures good nutrition, adequate fluid intake and treatment of dehydration with oral rehydration solution. “Antibiotics could be prescribed to treat eye and ear infections and pneumonia. All children diagnosed with measles should receive two doses of vitamin A supplements to restore immunity and help to prevent eye damage and blindness, given 24 hours apart,” warned the ministry. According to the World Health Organisation, almost 17 500 cases of measles were recorded in the African region between January and March 2022, marking a 400% increase, compared with the same period in 2021. Twenty African countries reported measles outbreaks in the first quarter of this year, eight more than that in the first three months of 2021. –