Zimbabwe has been hit by a deadly measles outbreak which has killed 14 children from 72 cases reported in Mutasa District, Manicaland province, the Health and Child Care Ministry reported on Wednesday.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory tract viral infection commonly found in children and is spread through sneezing, coughing and contact.
The outbreak is mainly affecting children aged between 6 months to 15 years.
Measles symptoms with a cough, fever, followed by a rash on the skin. The risk of developing measles is high when the child is unvaccinated.
Ministry of Health and Child Care spokesperson, Mr Donald Mujiri said only nine have been vaccinated from the 72 confirmed cases.
“As of April 10, 2022, 14 children have died of the disease with a total of 72 cases having been reported in Mutasa district, Manicaland. In order to control this outbreak, the health ministry has started a mass vaccination campaign in Mutasa District, Manicaland province targeting the 6 months to 15 years age group regardless of their vaccination status.
“Health workers are carrying out an intensive door-to-door education campaign against this disease.”
Mr Mujiri said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also been notified of this outbreak as a requirement.
“All provinces are being encouraged to be on high alert and report any suspected measles to the nearest health facility. Those who attended church gatherings especially in Manicaland during this period should be on the look-out for suspected measles among their children,” he said.
Zimbabwe experienced its worst outbreak of measles in 2010, which resulted in over 10 000 confirmed cases and over 500 deaths.
Africa is observing a surge in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Conferring to WHO, 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.