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13 Apr 2020 | 08:05 AM UTC

DRC: More than 350,000 measles cases reported nationwide as of early April /update 6

Measles epidemic reaches 353,551 cases, killed 6558 as of early April; take precautions



According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 353,551 people have been infected with measles between Tuesday, January 1, 2019, and early April 2020. At least 6558 related deaths have been reported in this period across the country. A total of 42,143 suspected cases have been reported since January 2020, with 527 related deaths. The most affected areas include the western and southern provinces of Mongala, South Ubangui, North Ubangi, Equateur, Maindombe, Kongo Central, Kasai, Kwilu, and Sankuru. Some eastern provinces, including Haut Ulele, North Kivu, South Kivu, and Tanganyika are also affected. In September 2019, the country launched an emergency vaccination campaign to stem the outbreak. However, efforts to contain the spread of the disease have been hampered by prevailing insecurity in parts of the country (notably in the east), poor infrastructure, and lack of access to routine healthcare. The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is also likely to disrupt response measures.

Further spread of the disease is possible over the coming weeks.  


Since August 2010, the DRC has experienced a resurgence of measles in almost all the country's provinces. Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that typically affects children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose or mouth of infected persons. A symptom of measles is usually a high fever, which begins approximately ten to 12 days after exposure to the virus and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over the course of about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days). A vaccine is available.


Individuals in the DRC are advised to ensure their measles vaccination is up to date (including booster shots) and to contact their doctor with any questions or concerns. Anyone experiencing the abovementioned symptoms is urged to seek immediate medical attention.