22 SUSPECTED CASES OF MEASLES RECORDED IN ABIA STATE -

22 SUSPECTED CASES OF MEASLES RECORDED IN ABIA STATE

Dr Onyechere Nwokocha, the Director, Public Health/Disease Control Department, Abia State Ministry of Health said 22 suspected cases of measles and one death were recorded in Mgboko, Obingwa local government area of Abia in June. Nwokocha said that samples from the victims were taken to the Public Health Laboratory in Lagos State for analysis, adding that the result was still being awaited.
He said “if the result is out and confirmed positive, that is when we can say it was truly measles outbreak and that one person died as a result of the disease.’’ He added that the ministry had done “case searching in the community to see if there are other suspected cases. Random samples from other households in the community were taken for analysis as part of measures to put the case under effective check.’’
The director said that the ministry carried out surveillance about the disease all year round with informants in every community, who were trained on how to identify the features of measles and other water-borne diseases. He also said that the ministry posted focal persons to health facilities, who would always liaise with the informants for effective surveillance at the community level.
“The idea behind the surveillance is to ensure prompt identification of an outbreak and response by all the health personnel involved. At the local government level, there were Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers, saddled with the responsibility of investigating suspected cases and reporting to the state. “Once an outbreak is suspected, it must be reported to the state. It must not be more than 48 hours for the state to carry out an investigation and initiate an intervention,” he said.
The public health expert said there was an ongoing elimination plan for measles, which included routine immunisation. He added that aside from the routine immunisation as a control measure, the state also carried out campaign immunisation as a fill-gap measure for children that missed the routine immunisation.
“These efforts notwithstanding, not every child is naturally captured, not every child that is vaccinated is protected, hence the occasional recurrence of the disease. At every given time, you still have a pool of those not protected. A very small percentage is still exposed and vulnerable to attack,” he explained.
He expressed satisfaction that the immunisation coverage in the state had continued to record a substantial increase annually.

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