According to World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 310,000 people have been infected with measles between Tuesday, January 1, 2019, and Wednesday, January 8, 2020. At least 6000 related deaths have been reported in this period across the country in what is considered as the world's worst outbreak.
In September, the country launched an emergency vaccination campaign to stem the outbreak. However, efforts to contain the spread of the disease have been hampered by prevailing insecurity in parts of the country (notably in the east), poor infrastructure, and lack of access to routine healthcare.
As such, further spread of the disease is possible 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 fade. 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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