Seven suspected measles deaths have been reported across Mumbai since Oct 26 this year, according to the BMC’s health department. Health officials said all these death reports will be presented to the death review committee after which exact cause of death will be known. Moreover, 142 confirmed measles cases have been recorded from eight slums in the last ten months.
“Four suspected deaths have been reported at the Kasturba Hospital, followed by two deaths at the Rajawadi Hospital and one death took place at home. Earlier, the civic body had confirmed two confirmed measles deaths but all should be considered suspected deaths until the death review committee doesn’t submit its report,” said an official. Currently there are 1,079 suspected measles cases; of them, 83 have been admitted to the Kasturba Hospital while five kids are on ventilators.
As the civic body and central team are already surveying the hotspots of measles, it has come to fore that the number of infected kids is also on the rise as many parents are reluctant to get their children vaxxed.
BMC Executive Health Officer Dr Mangala Gomare said that they are emphasising on the vaccination programme for which they have taken additional manpower of 150 people consisting of Anganwadi and Community Healthcare workers, and NGO volunteers. Ten beds have been reserved at the Shatabdi hospital in Govandi and seven beds at the Rajawadi Hospital for suspected measles patients, while serious patients are being shifted to Kasturba, she apprised.
“After the outbreak in September, we started checking the vaccination status of kids aged up to two years. It was noticed that 20,000 kids have not taken Measles Rubella 1 (MR1) and Measles Rubella 2 (MR2) vaccines. We have instructed all the health workers to distribute Vitamin A tablets to suspected measles cases,” Ms Gomare said. Two ambulances have been deployed in Govandi to quickly ferry serious patients for hospitalisation.
Currently, 12 measles outbreaks have been confirmed across Mumbai; of which, five outbreaks are in Govandi, which is the maximum so far. The BMC is also striving to create awareness regarding the MMR vaccines. It has asked the local corporator and maulanas to help them in the initiative. “We have roped in an Urdu doctor from the World Health Organisation (WHO) who will be spreading awareness about vaccination in the Govandi area,” Ms Gomare added.
BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal said their main aim is to focus on vaccination, screening, and treatment of the patients. The civic body will also get in touch with the Chattisgarh and Jharkhand officials to understand how they are handling the measles outbreak in their states. “Nodal officers have been appointed in each ward who will be handling screening, survey and vaccination camps for measles,” he said.
BMC Additional Commissioner Dr Sanjeev Kumar said they have activated the epidemiology cell and war rooms of each ward to keep track of confirmed and suspected cases of measles. The main aim is to speed up the vaccination drive by reaching dropout children immediately. “We are taking all necessary measures to control the spread or outbreak of measles in each ward. As slums in eight wards, which includes Govandi, Kurla, Chembur, Byculla, Mahim, Bandra Antophill and Malwani, have witnessed the outbreaks, while there are sporadic cases across the city,” he said.
Cautioning against the high transmissibility of measles, PD Hinduja Hospital’s Dr Umang Agrawal said, “Inadequate vaccination is one of the reasons behind the current measles outbreak. Vaccination is a process by which the body is exposed to an antigen very similar to the actual infection to which the body responds by producing antibodies.” Vaccination ensures preformed antibody response. In case, the patient comes in contact with infection, the body already has a large army of antibodies to fight it off as a result the chances of severity of disease in a vaccinated individual is substantially low, he added.
Also known as ‘khasra’, measles is a highly contagious viral disease which mostly affects children. It’s one of the leading causes of death and disability among children. There is no specific treatment for measles but there is a vaccine to stay protected from the disease.
Also known as German measles, it’s a contagious disease caused by a virus different from measles. Most people who contract rubella usually exhibit low-grade fever, sore throat and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.
Symptoms of both the infections are mostly similar
Prevention is better than cure
MMR vaccines are recommended for protection against measles, mumps and rubella. Kids should get two doses, with the first shot at 12-15 months of age and the second at 4-6 years of age.
High risk wards based on no of cases
Matunga, Antop Hill
HL : Total suspected measles deaths