Measles has seen an "abnormal increase" in Burkina Faso in the past three months, after a steady five-year decline in the incidence of the disease, the health ministry reported Monday.
"An abnormal increase in the number of measles cases has been registered from November to February, above all in children under five, contrasting with the decline in cases of the disease these past five years," Dr Ousmane Badolo told AFP.
Badolo, who heads the epidemic disease surveillance unit, said the situation was unusual and had led so far to nine deaths out of 1,795 known cases in the landlocked sub-Saharan country, one of the poorest in the world.
Doctors have been sent out across Burkina Faso to study the profile of the outbreak and oversee care and preventive measures, the senior health official said.
"Adults have also been affected, but the most numerous cases have been in children under five," Badolo said, being unable at present to give any reason for the outbreak in a nation where "measles cases have dropped ... because of the efficiency of our vaccination campaigns."
Measles is a highly infectious disease easily treated in developed nations but dangerous and sometimes fatal in poor countries. It induces a high fever, runny noses, coughing, skin irritation with red patches, and infected people are very sensitive to light.