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46 children have died of measles in South Sudan since 2022: WHO

About 46 children have lost their lives to measles outbreak in South Sudan since February last year, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO said in it’s latest statement issued on Friday that the highest cumulative number of deaths was recorded in Juba County in Central Equatoria state with 18 deaths, and eight deaths reported in Cueibet County of Lakes state, while other counties reported less than five.

It disclosed that the first measles cases were reported in January 2022 in two Counties of Torit in Eastern Equatoria State and Maban in Upper Nile State respectively.

The health authorities declared a measles outbreak on 10 December 2022.

 “In South Sudan, outbreaks of measles remain a concern due to insufficient vaccination coverage, the non-introduction of the second dose of MCV (MCV2) and the absence of supplementary vaccination activities against measles in some areas over the past three years,” WHO said.

The health ministry has so far recorded 4,339 suspected cases including 388 laboratory-confirmed cases.

The country has witnessed repeated outbreaks of measles since 2021 primarily due to the interrupted routine immunization services and inadequate implementation of supplementary immunization activities.

Between March and November 2022, a total of 770,581 children were vaccinated during nationwide vaccination campaign against measles.

“The current outbreak may have serious public health impacts due to the low national level of measles immunization coverage which is below the expected 95% coverage to interrupt the ongoing transmission,” it said.

According to WHO, measles is a highly contagious disease caused by the measles virus and occurs as a seasonal disease in tropical zones during the dry season.

It is transmitted instantly through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs, but the nature of transmission to vaccinated persons has not been demonstrated.

Measles can cause serious complications including blindness, severe diarrhea, ear infection, and pneumonia among malnourished children and people with compromised immunity as well as pregnant women.

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