Sabah authorities tackle measles outbreak in Penampang

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah health authorities are actively conducting efforts to contain a measles outbreak in Penampang district near here.

State Health director Dr Asits Sanna said they were conducting detailed checks, including epidemiology and laboratory investigations, as well as checking the surroundings at affected areas.

This was after 45 cases were reported last month, with seven more this year up to the second epidemiological week, putting total cases at 52.

Dr Asits said 65% of the cases involved foreigners, with children aged between seven and 17 accounting for the highest number, or 46%, while 23% comprised children aged two to six.

“Most of the cases, or 87%, have never received immunisation for measles,” he said in a statement on Friday (Jan 19).

Dr Asits said Kampung Limbanak recorded an outbreak with 37 cases reported overall, adding that these cases had epidemiological links with cases reported in other affected localities.

He said, however, most of the patients had recovered, with only one case admitted to hospital for further treatment.

“But the patient has also recovered and been discharged,” he added.

The state Health Department and Penampang Health office were now providing targeted immunisation to children at the localities concerned.

“This is among the main efforts being made to contain the spread of the disease,” Dr Asits said.

Besides that, he added, health awareness activities were also being actively conducted to highlight the importance of immunisation and preventive efforts.

He explained that measles was preventable through vaccination.

“The disease is highly contagious through water droplets in the air from people talking, coughing or sneezing.

“Measles infection in the community can be prevented by ensuring the immunisation coverage is over 95% at all times.

“High immunisation coverage can give protection through herd immunity,” Dr Asits added, advising parents to ensure their children obtained full inoculation according to schedule.

In Sabah, he said, measles immunisation is provided to children at the ages of six months, nine months and one year.

These services can be obtained at government and private health facilities, he added.

“We advise individuals with symptoms to practise courtesy by closing their mouths when coughing or sneezing as well as washing their hands thereafter,” he said, adding they should also seek treatment immediately.

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