MANILA, Philippines - A Department of Health (DOH) official said the agency is expecting the number of measles cases in Metro Manila to increase further.
Health Assistant Sec. Eric Tayag said for every case of measles, up to 18 other individuals can get the virus.
"Because measles is highly contagious, those who will get sick are those who have not been vaccinated and did not get the disease in the past," Tayag said in a phone-patch interview on ANC on Monday afternoon.
Tayag said Health Sec. Enrique Ona was able to meet on with city health officials and hospital administrators in Metro Manila to plan a strengthened anti-measles drive.
He said the efforts to stop the outbreak will now be stepped up as children aged six months to five years will be vaccinated as soon as possible.
The official said children will be vaccinated ahead of the adults, who may have acquired measles or vaccination in the past.
"Between adults and children, it's the children who would most likely have complicated measles or die of measles," Tayag said. "It will be the children who will be the priority."
The DOH declared measles outbreaks in several areas in Metro Manila, which had majority of the cases recorded from Jan. 1 to Dec. 14, 2013.
Tayag said measles can spread in areas such as Manila where people are "very mobile."
According to the website of the World Health Organization (WHO), measles is a highly contagious viral disease affecting mostly children that it is transmitted through droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of those infected.
The WHO said initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth.
"Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards," the WHO said.
The institution said the virus has no specific treatment but it can be prevented by immunization. Most people recover within two to three weeks.