Maharashtra: No urgent need for sero-survey now, says Measles Task Force

Screening, diagnosing treatment and immunisation in high risk zone is priority

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Thursday, December 22, 2022, 03:56 AM IST
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Measles (Representative Image) | NIH Medline Plus

/ Mumbai

There is no need for a sero-survey in Maharashtra. However, the focus should be on the three-lakh houses which are in the high-risk zone, according to Measles Task Force.

Chief of Measles Task-Force Dr Subhash Salunkhe said, “I’m not against the sero-survey but I’m certainly not going to indicate that it has to be done now. It is a technical, scientific study. It is not easy as it requires lakhs of money, and also laboratory capacity. It will take up to two months for the outcome, so there is no immediate gain. Till now, there has been no change in pathogenicity and virulence in the measles virus. So as a public health department, the priority is on screening, diagnosing, treatment and immunization.”

Though measles cases are under control, the task force has directed all the medical health officers to scale up testing, screening, immunisation and surveillance, which is the need of the hour, a senior official said.

According to the statistics, till October there were 17 outbreaks and 90 confirmed cases reported across the city and in the last 50 days, 400 new cases were reported. The city also reported 9 confirmed and 5 suspected deaths due to measles.

Doubts have emerged if there was any change in the strain of the virus. Recently in a two-day workshop organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, medical practitioners highlighted that cases of measles usually peak during winter in the months of December and January. However, this year the outbreak occurred in October.

Doctors said that the disease takes an ugly turn usually after 14 days when the affected child develops pneumonia. However, in the current outbreak, affected children are developing pneumonia within the first week itself. Experts also said that they will plan to conduct a serosurvey to know the spread of infection in the community.

Dr Mangala Gomare, Executive Health Officer said, “There is no such plan or decision on conducting serosurvey, the decision will be taken by task force members.”

“Of the total 2,60,739 children in the age group of 9 months to 5 years in 75 health post 61,348 (23.52%) (Progressive) children were given an additional dose of MR vaccine (Special dose). Moreover, 1,611 (30.43%) of the total 5,293 children in the age group of 6 to 9 months in 21 health posts, where the measles occured in the age group of less than 9 months, were given zero dose of MR vaccine,” Dr Gomare added.

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