Measles, mumps outbreak reported in Mombasa

Measles-rubella vaccine

The measles-rubella vaccine.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Mombasa County has recorded new cases of measles and mumps, worrying health officials.

Due to the spike, the Ministry of Health has instructed the disease surveillance department to ensure blood and throat swab samples are collected from all suspected cases with mumps and measles for further examination at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) lab.

Medical superintendents, sub-county health officials and health facilities should upscale surveillance, said county Director of Public Health Dr Salma Swaleh in a letter.

Measles is one of the diseases targeted for eradication by the World Health Organization (WHO) alongside polio and neonatal tetanus.

“Don’t miss out on any potential cases for investigation,” said Dr Swaleh.

Measles is a highly contagious and serious disease caused by the virus in the paramyxovirus family and is normally passed through direct contact and the air. The virus infects the respiratory tract before spreading throughout the body.

The WHO says measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases. It is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.

The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours. It can be transmitted by an infected person from four days before the onset of the rash to four days after the rash erupts.

There is no specific antiviral treatment for the measles virus. Severe complications from measles can be reduced through supportive care that ensures good nutrition, adequate fluid intake and treatment of dehydration with the WHO-recommended oral rehydration solution.

Unvaccinated young children are at the highest risk of contracting measles and its complications, including death. Unvaccinated pregnant women are also at risk.

Its first sign 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.

Mumps is an acute infectious disease caused by a paramyxovirus. Although the disease is usually mild, up to 10 percent of patients can develop aseptic meningitis.