Cult-Related Zimbabwe Measles Outbreak Kills 157 Children

A measles outbreak in Zimbabwe has resulted in at least 157 child deaths and more than 2,000 new cases that were previously blamed on church sect gatherings.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists during a briefing on Tuesday after a weekly cabinet meeting that the government was going to step up vaccinations. 

Based on cumulative figures across the country as of August 15, measles cases have risen to 2,056. 

Mutsvangwa added that the government has involved special legislation which will allow it to draw money from the National Disaster Fund “to deal with the emergency”. 

Zimbabwe’s Health Secretary Jasper Chimedza, in an earlier statement, said the measles outbreak has since spread nationwide following church gatherings after the first reported case last April 10. 

Chimedza added these church gatherings drew people from different provinces of the country with unknown vaccination statuses which they believed led to the spread of measles to previously unaffected areas. 

Measles, according to the World Health Organization, is a highly contagious viral disease which greatly affects young children globally. 

Children who contract the measles virus may experience serious complications such as blindness, brain swelling, diarrhea, and severe respiratory infections. 

Zimbabwe’s government has announced plans to upscale its national supplementary vaccination program targeting the 6 to 15 age group before the schools open.

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