Health authorities in Kono district, eastern Sierra Leone have confirmed an outbreak of measles in seven out of fourteen chiefdoms in the diamond-rich district following a test of twenty medical samples from the area which turned back five positive cases, according to District Disease Surveillance Officer, Sahr Amara Moiba. Moiba said the affected areas are Fiama, Nimikoro, Nimiyama, Gorama-Kono, Sandor and Tankoro chiefdoms. He said the tests were carried out at the Central Reference Laboratory in Freetown, with 98% of the cases being children between zero and one year.
He said the viral disease is transmitted through coughing and sneezing and that symptoms include fever, running nose and cough, reddish eyes and sore throat. Moiba revealed that hundreds of health workers from 84 Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) in the 14 chiefdoms of the district have been trained on how to treat the sickness, as part of preparation for the forthcoming national vaccination exercise against measles scheduled for 5 to 10 June this year.
Worried parents in the area have urged the government to step up efforts to save children not yet infected in the said chiefdoms and across the nation. However, the Health Ministry in Freetown is yet to come out with a comprehensive statement on the issue. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has dispatched an emergency support team to train local health personnel on how to tackle the outbreak and save the most vulnerable of children.