MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) has declared an outbreak of potentially deadly measles in several districts in at least nine cities in Metro Manila.
The outbreak was declared over the weekend in Quiapo, Sampaloc, Tondo, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Port Area and Sta. Mesa in Manila; Dagat-Dagatan and Bagong Barrio in Caloocan City; Talon 5, Talon 2, and Pamplona Uno in Las Piñas; and Longos and Tonsuya in Malabon.
Outbreaks were also detected in Alabang and Putatan in Muntinlupa; North Bay Boulevard South in Navotas; Moonwalk and Don Bosco in Parañaque; Bagong Tanyag in Taguig, and Ugong in Valenzuela.
Records of the DOH’s National Epidemiology Center (NEC) show that from Jan. 1 to Dec. 14, 2013, there were 1,724 measles cases, including 21 deaths. A majority of the cases were in Metro Manila.
The DOH is embarking on a massive measles vaccination drive in Metro Manila to stop the outbreak.
Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said the DOH would meet today with local government health officials and civil society groups in Metro Manila to plan an intensified measles vaccination in the metropolis.
Tayag noted that a single measles case can infect up to 18 other individuals compared to only five for human immunodeficiency virus and three for flu.
“A person who enters a room where a person with measles has just left, can still get measles as the virus can live up to two hours outside the host body,” Tayag said.
“Most children with measles easily recover, but the illness can kill because of pneumonia, acute diarrhea with severe dehydration or acute encephalitis,” he added.
Since measles is a highly contagious disease, Tayag stressed that vaccination must be done swiftly.
Health officials said there is a need for a door-to-door vaccination drive to protect the public against measles, especially children, pregnant mothers and immuno-compromised individuals.
The DOH intends to vaccinate as many children as possible to ensure the country remains on track in eliminating measles by 2017.
“Measles elimination can be achieved if measles vaccine coverage is at least 95 percent in every district,” Tayag said.