Increasing measles cases in several states have raised concern whether it could spread to more areas. Measles cases have been reported from Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala and Maharashtra.
Mumbai and other districts in Maharashtra have reported a sharp rise in measles cases, prompting the centre to ask states to consider administering an additional dose of measles and rubella vaccines to children aged nine months to five years in vulnerable areas.
Doctors have explained certain steps that could help in preventing the spread of measles.
First, at least three doses of measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccination are needed to protect children, say doctors.
The first dose is when a child is nine months old. The second is on turning 15 months old. And the third on turning five or six years old.
Infected children should be isolated from others to prevent spread of the virus. A good diet, proper hydration and maintaining hygiene along with taking antibiotics will help fight measles infection, say doctors.
MMR vaccine in a two-dose schedule has also successfully eliminated measles, mumps and rubella from many developed countries.
Mumbai on Thursday recorded 19 new cases of measles and one death.
In a letter to all the states and Union Territories, the Health Ministry said the measles case surge is of particular concern.
“It is also clear that in all such geographies, the affected children were predominantly unvaccinated and the average coverage of Measles and Rubella Containing Vaccine (MRCV) among the eligible beneficiaries is also significantly below the national average,” Health Ministry’s Joint Secretary P Ashok Babu said in the letter.
As the viral disease is known to surge between November and March, the Health Ministry said a fever and rash surveillance mechanism needs to be worked out for early case identification.
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