According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), at least 203,179 cases of measles, and 4096 associated deaths have been reported across the country's 26 provinces between January and mid-October. Health officials indicate the number of cases recorded in 2019 is more than triple the number recorded in 2018. A vaccination campaign for young children is being deployed to stem the outbreak. However, further spread of the disease is possible in the affected regions over the coming weeks.
Since August 2010, the DRC has experienced a resurgence of measles in almost all the country's provinces. Authorities recorded 67,702 measles cases, including 901 associated deaths, across the country in 2018.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that typically affects children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose or mouth of infected persons. A symptom of measles is usually a high fever, which begins approximately ten to 12 days after exposure to the virus and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over the course of about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days). A vaccine is available.
Individuals in the DRC are advised to ensure their measles vaccination is up to date (including booster shots) and to contact their doctor with any questions or concerns. Anyone experiencing the abovementioned symptoms is urged to seek immediate medical attention.
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