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Measles outbreak kills 82 in Malawi

Lilongwe, June 26, 2010

A measles outbreak in Malawi has killed 82 people, mostly children, and infected more than 17,000 others, a senior health official said.

Dr Storn Kabuluzi, director of preventive health services in the department of health, said efforts were being made to vaccinate those most at risk.

"We have registered 82 deaths, mostly children, and 17,496 cumulative cases in the last six months since the first measles outbreak was reported in January this year," Kabuluzi told Reuters in an interview.

Measles is an infectious disease characterised by a high temperature and red spots all over the body.

Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea and dehydration, ear infections or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

Kabuluzi said government had embarked on a vaccination campaign, focusing on rural Malawi where 80 per cent of the 13 million population lives. He said government had secured around 600 million Zambian kwacha ($117,000) so far for the programme.

"We are currently conducting awareness campaigns and are in the process of procuring the vaccine for the disease and we will target children aged from nine months to 15 years of age for vaccination," he said.

It costs less than $1 to vaccinate a child against measles but two doses are required for full protection. – Reuters

Tags: Measles | diseases | malawi | Zambia | Lilongwe |

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