17th February 2020
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Five children die of suspected measles in Wau

Author: Deng Dimo | Published: 8 months ago

Mothers and their children in Wau. PHOTO: Phil Hatcher-Moore/UNICEF/Al Jazeera

At least five children have reportedly died of a suspected measles outbreak in Wau state.

The cases have been reported at the UN Protection of Civilian site and the surrounding area.

According to the IOM, over 380 suspected cases have been recorded between May and June this year.

The disease is said to have been found mostly among those escaping recent violence in Jur River area of Wau.

Clashes between farmers in Wau and cattle keepers from Tonj state have been rampant in Kwajina area –forcing many to flee to the UN camp and religious grounds in Wau town.

IOM’s Clinical Officer, Esther Moja told Eye Radio in Wau that despite the intervention, the disease is spreading from within the UN camp to the IDPs outside the camp.

She said most of the victims die because of measles related complications.

“We have received about 69 cases and these are cases from the collective sites. Some are from the UN protection sites, and others from the reception areas. We have recorded about 385 cases starting from the end of May to 25th of June,” Esther said.

Measles is a very contagious respiratory infection which causes skin rash and flu-like symptoms.

In 2016, the UN recorded an outbreak of measles in Wau, with an estimated 648,000 children under the age of 5 at risk of contracting the disease across the country.

The outbreak in Wau was attributed mainly to population displacement, including the high number of people moving to Wau town.

Ms Esther said children between 6 months to 5 years are the most affected by the measles, although the cases are not as high as previous years.

She said they are conducting health awareness sessions to support detection of suspected cases and ensure proper case management.

“We are trying to control the disease, we have started with the measles campaigns to reduce the outbreak. We are isolating the cases. In the beginning the cases were so many, there were deaths recorded on daily basis, but currently reports of deaths has minimized,” Esther concluded.

According to the World Health Organization, WHO, measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 134 200 people died from measles in 2015 – mostly children under the age of 5.

No specific antiviral treatment exists for measles virus.

Routine vaccination for children, combined with mass immunization campaigns in countries with high cases and death rates, are key public health strategies to reduce global measles deaths.

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