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Measles cases surge in Vizcaya, Bulacan

MANILA, Philippines - Measles cases continue to rise in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Bulacan, health authorities said yesterday.

Local health officials have declared a measles outbreak in Nueva Vizcaya after 31 cases, with one death, were recorded in the province since November last year.

Edwin Galapon, provincial health officer, confirmed the rising measles cases in the municipalities of Aritao, Kasibu, Dupax del Norte and Bambang, where a one-year-old boy died due to the virus last November.

The young fatality from Barangay Salicpan, Bambang town succumbed to measles while being treated at the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Hospital, Galapon said.

Of the 31 suspected measles cases, he said five have been laboratory confirmed.

Allan Sibal, information officer of the Department of Health (DOH) for Cagayan Valley, said a measles outbreak could be declared if an area surpassed its number of cases in the previous year.

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He said Nueva Vizcaya recorded fewer measles patients in the last quarter of 2012 compared to the seven confirmed cases during the same period in 2013, prompting the DOH to declare an outbreak of the disease.

The DOH Center for Health Development for Cagayan Valley is still investigating the cause or origin of the measles outbreak.

Sibal said they need to study further the measles cases to determine if the virus originated in Nueva Vizcaya, considering that the province is within the boundaries of the Cordillera region and Central Luzon.

“We also need to validate if the patients were vaccinated with anti-measles, as there are communities that do not embrace this service. One dilemma we have during massive vaccination was the behavior of (some) parents. They are uncooperative,” he said.

At least 168 measles cases have been recorded in Region 2 in 2013. Of this number, there were 13 laboratory confirmed cases.

Of the confirmed cases, seven came from Nueva Vizcaya, two each from Isabela and Ilagan City, one each from Santiago City and Cagayan province. The provinces of Batanes and Quirino as well as Tuguegarao City have so far registered no measles cases.

Sibal assured the public that they have enough vaccines in the provincial and municipal health units.

In Bulacan, 43 suspected measles cases were recorded since Jan. 1 this year, with one death in San Miguel town.

Measles cases in Bulacan have increased in the first 10 days of this month following a steady decline since 2010. – With Dino Balabo

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