NYARURGURU - Health officials in Nyaruguru District are on a high alert after two of the five suspected cases of measles reported in Ruheru Sector tested positive.
Talking to The New Times, Anastase Karemera, a district official in charge of health, said that the cases were reported at Ruheru Health Centre where the children are currently admitted.
“We sent samples to Kigali for testing, two of the five samples have been confirmed,” said Karemera on telephone.
The official said that measles were rare in the district with the last case recorded about five years ago.
Ruheru Sector lies at the border with neighbouring Burundi which could be a potential source of the disease, but according to Karemera, it is still too early to determine where the disease could have been transmitted from.
“The two cells in which the disease has been reported are quite far from the border though there is a lot of cross border movement”.
A team of health officials from the Centre for treatment and research on AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and other Epidemics, and the National University of Rwanda School of Public Health, has been dispatched to the area to follow up on the outbreak.
Measles is one of the causes of child mortality in Rwanda, accounting for less than two percent of deaths of children under five, even though the vaccine against the disease is available.
Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
In 2008, there were 164 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour.
More than 95% of measles deaths occur in low-income countries with weak health infrastructures.
Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2008 worldwide.
In 2008, about 83% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.
Signs and symptoms
The first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage.
After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days, and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days).
Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV/AIDS or other diseases.
People who recover from measles are immune for the rest of their lives.