However, almost 6% of symptomatic cases were in children above ten and adolescents, a group less prone to measles. Amid heightened surveillance, the count of confirmed infections in Mumbai climbed to 164 on Wednesday.
Four children are on oxygen support and nearly 30 have been discharged. Suspected cases rose to 1,263. The analysis showed babies between 0-8 months accounted for 12% of suspected cases, those 9-11 months make up 13% and between 1-4 years account for 51%. Of the 80 children in the hospital, 45 are aged 1-4 years.
Dr Radha Ghildiyal, head of paediatrics at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Hospital, said this group was more predisposed because of higher exposure. “They go to play school, schools or step out to mingle with other kids,” she said. Civic teams are holding parent-teacher meetings in Govandi schools to contain the spread. Data showed kids aged 5 to 9 contributed 17% of suspected infections. At Govandi, which has over 60% of the cases, older siblings are index cases in many instances, said a community health volunteer. However, while older children mostly recovered without complications, younger ones suffered a more severe infection.
“Infants are protected for about three months with antibodies from their mothers. But post that, they are completely unprotected since the first vaccine dose is given in nine months. Hence nutrition becomes a shield till then,” said Dr Mukesh Agrawal, former head of paediatrics at KEM Hospital. Children above five years also develop some immunity, even if unvaccinated, because of subclinical exposure, said Dr Ghildiyal, who has seen a notable increase in cases at Sion Hospital-from five in October to 13 in November. She found malnourishment the common thread among children from Govandi, Dharavi, Kurla and Mumbra.
However, most paediatricians in the private sector haven’t encountered a single case of measles. This shows how the spread is mainly in unvaccinated and poorer pockets. Dr Bijal Srivastava from Hiranandani Hospital said she has not seen any instances but has received calls from anxious parents. Dr Jesal Sheth, a paediatrician at Fortis Hospital, concurred that parents inquire if the children need some booster shot.
Dr Agrawal said the third dose of Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is recommended at the age of 5, but it’s not given under the national programme. Sanjeev Kumar, additional municipal commissioner, said nearly 20,000 children in the 0-2 age group are unvaccinated. The civic body has now started a survey of children between 2-5 years.