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Health department to step up measures to fight measles in Gurugram

Measles is an acute viral respiratory illness that can be prevented by the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, the first dose of which should be administered to a baby between 12 to 15 months of age.

gurgaon Updated: Apr 29, 2019 04:04 IST
Sonali Verma
Sonali Verma
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
measles,gurugram,nathpur
A total of nine confirmed cases of measles were reported in the district in 2018, as compared to only two cases in 2017, according to the data of the district health department. (AFP)

The health department is planning to intensify surveillance on the breakout of measles in the district, after more cases of the disease were reported last year as compared to the total number of cases in 2017.

A total of nine confirmed cases of measles were reported in the district in 2018, as compared to only two cases in 2017, according to the data of the district health department.

Officials from the health department said from May onwards, every case showing fever and rash case will be thoroughly investigated to tackle the outbreak of measles. “Measles cases are a result of vaccination refusal. We are planning to intensify the surveillance. Households and families will be targeted,” said Dr Jaiprakash Rajliwal, district immunisation officer(DIO).

He added that the yearly immunisation drive has already been started.

The number of suspected cases of measles too saw a rise of more than 70% last year as compared to 2017. In 2018, 80 suspected cases of the disease were reported. This number was 45 in 2017.

Measles is an acute viral respiratory illness that can be prevented by the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, the first dose of which should be administered to a baby between 12 to 15 months of age.

Initial symptoms include cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes, sore throat, fever and a red, blotchy skin rash.

The disease can get severe and cause inflammation of the brain, permanent loss of vision and ear infections. Suspected measles cases mean the swab samples used to confirm the disease were not collected.

Health department officials said, so far this year, three suspected cases have been reported from Haily Mandi, Bhora Kalan and Farrukhnagar. “The swab samples have been collected from private hospitals, where these cases were found and have been sent for testing. If the tests are positive, these will be declared as confirmed cases of measles,” said Rajliwal.

In Gurugram district, in 2018, two measles outbreaks were declared in Nathupur and Basai Enclave. In 2017, one measles outbreak was declared in Om Nagar. A measles outbreak is declared by the health department when more than five cases are confirmed from the same area.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2018, a total of 2,29,068 cases of measles were reported across the world that is nearly double the number of infections contracted in the previous year.

India has 2.9 million children who are unvaccinated against measles, the second highest number after Nigeria, which is home to 4 million children who are not vaccinated against the disease, according to UNICEF. According to health workers, outbreaks are a result of vaccine refusal, which is high in the country.

“In the district, vaccine refusal has been reported mostly from urban slums. There are apprehensions about the quality and safety of vaccines, and people aren’t aware of government-run immunisation programmes,” said Rajbala Singh, a health worker with the department.

First Published: Apr 29, 2019 04:03 IST