8 January 2013

Cameroon: Measles is Around!

Some children are currently suffering from measles. Doctors say prevention is better than cure.

Officials say it is no more an epidemic. But it becomes a cause for concern when more than four parents complain about their children suffering from measles which is that highly contagious disease that causes fever and rash. A stop at some pediatric units in Yaounde indicates that measles is not as recurrent like it was eight months back. But medical doctors however lament over the fact that the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to be able to eradicate the disease has not been attained especially as most kids do not go for the second dose of vaccination which is considered as a booster that reinforces their immune systems.

Dr Jean Taguebue, pediatrician at the Chantal Biya Foundation says measles might not be common at the moment but the climatic condition gives room for it. With the hot and dusty environment, droplets of the measles virus can spread. It is said that measles is more contagious than almost any other disease. The virus that causes measles lives in the nose and throat of infected people and is sprayed into the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks, and can stay in the air for up to two hours. Dr Jean Taguebue says people with measles can spread the disease starting four days before the rash begins until four days after it appears.

Although it might look like a cough or high fever at the beginning, measles have devastating consequences that could lead to lung infections, bronchitis, severe diarrhea, respiratory distress and even death. This is why medical personnel stress that the best way to protect children is to have them vaccinated when they are 9 months, later at 12 months old and again when they are about to enter kindergarten. Dr Jean Taguebue says the last dose of measles vaccine is important because at a later stage, it also protects the child against mumps and rubella.

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