A measles outbreak has hit Mutasa district in Manicaland province with 14 deaths reported from the 72 cases recorded since last month.
According to Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) Permanent Secretary, Dr Jasper Chimedza, the infections were still confined to Mutasa District.
“A total of 72 cases have and 14 deaths have been reported since 10 April 2022 when the outbreak was detected in Mutasa District in Manicaland Province,” Ministry of Health and Child Care said.
“It has come to our attention that all or majority of those affected were not vaccinated against measles, including religious beliefs.
“We are working with affected communities as we do the Measles vaccination to avert the loss of life. The Measles outbreak is confined to Mutasa District only. No other province or district has reported any case,”
MoHCC added that all provinces and districts were currently on high alert for measles.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) is mounting a nationwide campaign to increase vaccination coverage to avoid the spread of the measles outbreak. We are encouraging people to bring their children for vaccination at the nearest health facilities. Our teams will be traveling to hard-to-reach areas and offer measles vaccination for free.”
According to the World Health Organisation, almost 17 338 measles cases were reported worldwide in January and February 2022, compared to 9665 during the first two months of 2021. As measles is very contagious, cases tend to show up quickly when vaccination levels decline.
Apart from its direct effect on the body, which can be lethal, the measles virus also weakens the immune system and makes a child more vulnerable to other infectious diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea, including for months after the measles infection itself among those who survive. Most cases occur in settings that have faced social and economic hardships due to COVID-19, conflict, or other crises, and have chronically weak health system infrastructure and insecurity.