Health department confirms German measles outbreak in Northern Cape

Parents and guardians are requested to contact the nearest clinic if they recognise the symptoms.

The Northern Cape department of health has confirmed a German measles outbreak, also known as Rubella, in the Pixley ka Seme district.

The department has so far recorded 52 cases – 22 in Phillipstown, 17 in Hopetown and 13 in De Aar.

German measles symptoms

The symptoms of German measles include:

  • Fine rash on the face and neck
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Ear infection
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Lymph nodes in the neck
  • Pink eyes

Parents and guardians are requested to contact the nearest clinic if they recognise the symptoms.

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According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), an increase in German measles cases was noted in the Western Cape since the second week of September 2023.

Between 2020-2023, fewer than 50 cases of rubella were identified across the entire country, as the non-pharmaceutical interventions that were implemented for the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted rubella transmission, said the NICD.

It further warned of a high number of cases in 2023.

German measles is a mild illness in children and adults, but can have severe consequences in pregnant women, particularly those infected in the first trimester of pregnancy.

ALSO READ: Global measles cases up 300 percent year-on-year: WHO

The rubella virus can infect the foetus, leading to congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

Congenital rubella syndrome may lead to foetal death, or congenital anomalies including congenital heart disease, cataracts and deafness.

It is transmitted through direct or droplet contact from the mouth.

Healthcare workers are advised to be vigilant for symptoms of rubella and notify and report cases.

“Presently no public health action is required following identification of cases as rubella, as no vaccine is available in the public sector. However, should measles be suspected, ring vaccination with measles vaccine should be conducted on all contacts under five years of age,” said the NICD.

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“Once the rubella vaccine is available, ring vaccination according to the updated vaccinators manual, should be implemented on clinical suspicion of both measles and rubella to contain the infection in line with the global measles-rubella eradication agenda.”

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