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City to drive measles vaccination campaign<p>The City of Cape Town’s Health Department will start rolling out a measles campaign next week, on Monday 20 February 2017, in response to more than half a dozen confirmed measles cases in a school in Stellenbosch. A number of children from Somerset West and the City’s northern sub-district who attend the school are still awaiting laboratory confirmation of results.</p><p>The campaign will start on Monday in City Health’s northern and eastern sub-districts and will be rolled out to the rest of the city the following week. Only children under the age of five will be targeted for vaccinations, except for the northern and eastern sub-districts where the measles immunisation campaign will be extended to children up to the age of 15 years. This is because of the proximity of those areas to the point of origin of the outbreak. The City appeals to parents to sign the informed consent form that children will be given to take home.</p><p>Measles is a highly contagious infection caused by a virus and spreads very easily through coughing and sneezing as well as contact with saliva or nasal secretions. It affects mostly infants. Although it appears like a mild disease, it has a high rate of complications, including death. Measles can only be contracted once, but there are other viral diseases that present very similar signs and symptoms, which is why the measles diagnosis needs to be confirmed through blood tests.</p><p>Initial signs and symptoms include a skin rash, fever, conjunctivitis, a cough and a runny nose. Two or three days later, small white spots may appear inside the mouth, known as Koplik's spots. After exposure to a case, it takes 10 – 12 days to become ill. The person becomes infectious about four days before the rash appears and remains infectious for another four days after. While the symptoms are the same for children and adults, children under five have the highest rate of subsequent complications, which include diarrhoea, respiratory diseases such as viral or bacterial bronchopneumonia, encephalitis, and even blindness. A measles infection frequently leads to malnutrition and weakening of the immune system, resulting in increased mortality for all causes for two to three years after the measles episode.</p><p>‘We have a good vaccination programme in Cape Town, but two doses of the measles vaccine are required for good disease protection. Every year there is a percentage of children who do not receive the two vaccine doses necessary to develop immunity. The result is that every few years, there is a group of people large enough to sustain an outbreak, sometimes even a full-blown epidemic. That is why outbreaks occur every five or six years,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.</p><p>Vaccination is the only means we have to prevent measles. Currently, children receive the measles vaccination at the age of 6 months and then 12 months as part of the national immunisation schedule. National campaigns are conducted to improve the vaccination coverage. In such instances, a child can receive additional vaccinations.</p><p>‘I want to encourage parents, caregivers and communities at large to help us make a success of the upcoming campaign. Sign the consent forms for your children promptly as the health staff will not visit the crèche or school again. If your child missed the campaign, visit your local clinic for advice. We’re aware that there is an anti-vaccinations lobby, but the risks associated with vaccinations are minute compared with the risks associated with developing the disease.</p><p>‘The introduction of the expanded immunisation programme has seen a huge drop in the number of measles cases worldwide, but we can’t afford to be complacent. It is the nature of this disease to reappear every five to six years. Parents and caregivers have to ensure that their children complete the immunisation schedule to prevent outbreaks,’ added Alderman Smith.</p><p><br><strong>End</strong><br></p>2017-02-14T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891dGP0|#9c1ca103-fe87-4666-9e7e-8f4def03b31f;L0|#09c1ca103-fe87-4666-9e7e-8f4def03b31f|measles vaccination campaign;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb;GP0|#0b858893-1ef6-46d3-9364-6c1c772e881d;L0|#00b858893-1ef6-46d3-9364-6c1c772e881d|Clinics;GP0|#277230ac-55b5-491e-911c-cd9715ca8bc5;L0|#0277230ac-55b5-491e-911c-cd9715ca8bc5|contagious infection1


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