Karachi at risk from measles outbreak


Karachi is presently exposed to a mini outbreak of measles with 20 to 25 children brought with the disease to Civil Hospital only, on daily basis, Prof. Ayesha Mehnaz, head of paediatrics department told APP Monday.
“Situation is no different in other hospitals,” said the doctor, who is also a senior member of Pakistan Paediatric Association.
In reply to a question, she agreed that a mini-epidemic of measles is registered every third year in the city. “However, what is different this year is the time as measles, a viral infection reported during winters, is presently registered in summers,” said Prof. Ayesha Mehnaz.
Measles is not only an acute illness that causes death and complication but also holds its long term impact as post measles diarrhoea, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, encephalitis, reactivation of tuberculosis and blindness due to vitamin A deficiency and malnutrition.
Although cough, pneumonia and malnutrition are the common manifestations of the disease children inflicted with measles are generally not brought to hospitals as it is conventionally accepted that no medication is required for the disease and every child had to suffer from it sooner or later.
It is only if and when the children suffering from measles develop complications that hospitals are approached, said senior child specialist Dr. Mobina Agboatwala. Prof. Ayesha attributed the current outbreak of measles to poor routine immunization coverage in the country.
Dr. Agboatwala did agree with her colleague, however, suggested that in case incidence rate of measles, owing to any reason may found to be high, the government must initiate “Mopping Up Exercise”.
Under the strategy all children belonging to neighbouring areas of the sites, where cases of measles might were detected, be immediately vaccinated against the ailment.
Those from the affected areas will get afflicted at one or the other point of time and there should be adequate provision for administering Vitamin A capsules to them, reverting risks of their getting partially or even totally blind besides death. The doctors in response to another query did acknowledge that chicken pox and skin allergies were also somehow wrongly but quite frequently inferred as measles.
Measles vaccines are prerequisite for all children around the world, atleast once in a life time. Vaccination of our children against measles is all the more important as our country is endemic to it, they said.
Since the peak season as a norm begins from January, parents must be persuaded to ensure that all children upto five years of age are immunized against the disease. “I also strongly recommend Igm (antibodies) assessment of all suspected cases of the disease,” said Dr.Agboatwala.