Measles outbreak in a district of Western Province, January – February 2017


The NICD, National Department of Health (NDOH) and Western Cape provincial and district authorities are working together to contain a measles outbreak in the Stellenbosch sub-District. A single case in a high school learner in a Stellenbosch school was diagnosed and reported in mid-January 2017. Subsequently, from 18-30th January, five learners at the same school and a single family member developed laboratory-confirmed measles.

Three  schools were identified for an immediate measles vaccination campaign. Over 2,000 consenting learners and staff members were vaccinated on Friday 3rd February 2017.  As of 6th February an additional 20 suspected measles cases are being followed up by authorities, and containment measures implemented, including voluntary quarantine of cases and vaccination of contacts. All health facilities have been urged to be on the alert for suspected cases. A vaccination campaign is currently being planned by the Western Cape Provincial government together with the support of the NDOH, starting with children under-five in high-risk communities.

Health care workers across the country are advised:
·        to be on the alert for suspected measles cases, and
·        to submit a blood sample (yellow-top tube) for testing to their laboratory
·        to complete a case investigation form (available on the NICD website).
·        to notify their district Communicable Diseases Co-ordinator or the Infection Prevention and Control officer of their local private or public hospital telephonically if they suspect a case.

The case definition of a suspected measles case is:

Any person with a fever of 38oC or more,
a generalised maculo-papular rash, with any of:
·          cough;
·          conjunctivitis (red eyes) and
·          coryza (runny nose)

Parents are advised to be sure that their children are up to date with their vaccinations. In the public sector, measles vaccination is given free of charge at 6 months of age, with a booster at 12 months. For persons who have missed a dose of measles vaccine – it is never too late to catch up! In the private sector, measles vaccination is available as part of the ‘MMR’ (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine between 12-18 months of age. For more information on measles and measles vaccination, please visit the NICD website: