Discovery Health has identified a significant increase in the incidence of measles in its claims data. This confirms the data emerging from the Gauteng Department of Health that announced an Emergency Measles Outbreak Campaign from 15 May to 30 June 2017 to address what it has identified as an outbreak of the disease.

Health professional teams from the department will be visiting crèches and schools to immunise all children from 6 months to 15 years with 1 dose of measles vaccine. Even if a child has had all their vaccines, it’s important that they be vaccinated again as part of this outbreak management.

Dr Roshini Moodley-Naidoo, Head of Risk Management and Quality Care at Discovery Health, explains why this is so important:

“The outbreak is occurring not because the vaccines used previously failed but rather because not everyone was vaccinated, leaving the rest of the community vulnerable. Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease. It can cause severe complications including blindness, deafness, brain damage, pneumonia and even death. The disease can affect both children and adults, but the illness can also be effectively prevented through vaccination. It is important for people to be aware of the vaccine schedules and to adhere to these.”

“We urge all members of the public to ensure you and your children are fully protected against this potentially harmful disease. By protecting yourself and your family, you are also protecting your community by reducing the chance of an outbreak in your community. Please go to your nearest clinic or speak to your doctor about vaccination as soon as possible. With measles, prevention is far better than cure. Taking pre-emptive measures can go a long way in halting this outbreak in our communities,” she adds.

What is measles and how can you spot it?

Measles is an airborne disease spread by coughing and sneezing and is more prevalent in childhood. Symptoms of measles generally appear within 14 days of exposure to the virus, and are similar to those of a common cold. They include coughing, a rising fever, sore, red eyes, light sensitivity, muscle aches, a runny nose, a sore throat and white spots inside the mouth.

A widespread skin rash is a classic sign of measles. It commonly appears as red, itchy bumps that develop on the head and slowly spread to other parts of the body. The rash generally appears within the first three to five days of exposure to the virus, can last up to seven days. If your doctor is unable to confirm a diagnosis based on observation, they may order a blood test to check for the measles virus.

Discovery Health Medical Scheme covers immunisation against measles

In line with Discovery Health Medical Scheme’s general funding rules for vaccines and immunisations, the Scheme covers the measles vaccine from available funds in members’ Medical Savings Accounts, without accumulation to threshold.

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