Communicable diseases communiqué

The Communicable diseases communiqué is published on a monthly basis for the purpose of providing up-to-date information on communicable diseases in South Africa. Much of the information is preliminary and should not be cited or utilised for publication.

JANUARY 2023, VOL. 22 (1)

Editor's Note | Dr Michelle Groome

We have drawn the curtain on 2022, and are at the start of a brand new year. Holidaymakers have returned home, schools have reopened and the 2022 matriculants are bracing themselves for a new chapter in their lives. The new year sees the measles outbreak continue unabated, with a total of 421 laboratory-confirmed cases as of 26 January and five provinces having declared measles outbreaks. Vaccination is the best way to bring the outbreak under control and vaccination campaigns are underway for children up to 15 years.

Malaria cases generally peak in January and February, after the holiday season, so keep the possibility of malaria in mind for patients presenting with flu-like illness. There has been an increase in pertussis cases identified at surveillance sites as well as through the Notifiable Medical Conditions surveillance system, with the majority of cases occurring in children under 5 years of age. Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease so it’s important for children’s vaccinations to be up to date to ensure adequate protection.

Despite fears of the XBB.1.5. being a more transmissible Omicron variant, there is no indication that it causes more severe disease. Laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations in South Africa remain low.

In this edition, we provide an update on Hepatitis A surveillance in South Africa in 2022. Hepatitis A virus causes acute liver disease and is mainly transmitted via the faecal-oral route. We also provide updates on poliomyelitis in South Africa and globally.

Looking beyond our borders, Uganda declared an end to the Sudan ebolavirus outbreak earlier this month. The global number of weekly cases of mpox has been decreasing since August last year. Outbreaks of cholera and dengue fever in other parts of the world pose a potential risk to South Africans, so clinicians should be on the alert for these diseases in travellers returning to South Africa. The Northern Hemisphere influenza season is in full swing, so clinicians should have a high index of suspicion for influenza in travellers returning from the Northern Hemisphere who present with respiratory illness.

IN THIS ISSUE

QUICK UPDATES
– Measles, South Africa
– COVID-19, South Africa

ZOONOTIC AND VECTOR-BORNE DISEASES
– Rabies
– Malaria

RESPIRATORY DISEASES
– Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) season update
– Increase in Pertussis cases
– Northern Hemisphere Influenza season

VACCINES AND IMMUNOLOGY
– Laboratory-based Hepatitis A IgM Surveillance in South Africa, January to December 2022
– Polio

BEYOND OUR BORDERS
– Ebola – Uganda
– Mpox
– COVID-19
– Cholera – African Region
– Dengue Fever

WHO AFRO UPDATE

Communiqué is released monthly – to download and view past Communiqué publications, go to Archives.