The Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, says dry cough is a likely early sign of measles when observed with symptoms like high grade fever, running nose, red eyes and tiny white spots in the mouth.
Speaking in Abuja, he said measles, an acute and highly contagious disease, is caused by a viral organism — Paramyxoviridae.
According to him, measles accounts for 13 per cent of vaccine-preventable deaths in children younger than five years in Africa, infecting nine in 10 people who are not vaccinated.
He added that “measles is spread through coughing and sneezing, contact with respiratory secretions or aerosols or close personal contact and remains contagious in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours.
“Symptoms usually appear between 10 and 12 days after infection; a rash later develops, spreading from face downwards.’’
According to him, complication occurs in the second and third weeks following the infection.
“This includes corneal scaring aggravated by vitamin A deficiency, encephalitis more common in older children and adults, about 0.1 per cent diarrhea, pneumonia, which is major cause of death and sub-acute Sclerosing Panencephalitis, a delayed complication which is rare.’’
He said that other complications of measles include personality changes, seizures, motor disability, progressing to coma and death.
“It remains contagious in air or on surfaces for up to two hours.
“The period of greatest infectiousness which signifies virus shedding occurs four days before the onset of rash and four days after the rash has appeared.
“The average incubation period is 14 days; ranging from seven to 18 days; prodrome begins 10 to 14 days after exposure to the infection.”
He urged parents, wards and caregivers to ensure that all children received the life-saving vaccine for measles.
The NCDC boss also called on all stakeholders to work together to improve immunisation delivery to protect children from preventable diseases.
NCDC reported 6000 cases of measles and 15 deaths in the country since the beginning of 2019, twice as much as 2018 for the same period, with Borno as the most affected.
In spite of the vaccination campaign conducted in February 2019, the number continued to rise.
Meanwhile, second round of vaccination is planned by ministries of health in the states and health partners.