In Central Visayas: Measles outbreak
(The Freeman) - February 8, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Central Visayas is now among the regions in the country where the Department of Health (DOH) declared an outbreak of measles due to increasing incidence of the highly contagious disease.


Health Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday announced that they are expanding the outbreak declaration from the National Capital Region and Central Luzon. Aside from Central Visayas, an outbreak was also declared in Calabarzon and Western Visayas.

"We are expanding the outbreak from Metro Manila to other regions as cases have increased in the past weeks," Duque said.

DOH-7 reported a total of 96 cases with one death from January 1 to February 2 this year.

Dr. Jaime Bernadas, DOH-7 regional director, said the documented cases of measles are 2,300 percent higher compared to the four cases in the same period last year.

Bernadas said the outbreak started in Negros Oriental followed by Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor. Most of the affected were children aged one to five years old from Cebu City (43.8 percent), followed by Lapu-Lapu City (8.3 percent), Mandaue City (5.2 percent), Bais City and Liloan (3.1 percent).

Bernadas blamed the outbreak on the public’s misconception and misinformation about the vaccine.

"Wala kaayo masabti sa uban ginikanan, unya ang uban pud, dili moadto sa health centers tungod kay wala sila masayod kaayo ug unsay epekto sa atong mga bakuna," Bernadas said.

He explained that all children are prone to infection and must be vaccinated to ensure their protection from the measles virus. The DOH has estimated 1.8 million children nationwide who were not given measles vaccine.

Bernadas said the health agency is conducting a catch-up immunization program. He said local health workers, assisted by health volunteers, are already doing a house-to-house campaign.

In Western Visayas, 104 cases and three deaths were recorded or an increase of 550 percent from last year. There were also 575 cases, including nine deaths, recorded in Calabarzone.

The DOH previously declared outbreak of measles in National Capital Region (NCR) and Central Luzon where a total of 441 cases, with five deaths were recorded and 575 cases and nine deaths were posted, respectively.

Duque also raised heightened alert in MIMAROPA, Ilocos Region, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao and SOCCsksargen as increased trend of cases were also observed in those regions.

He said 70 cases as compared to two cases were reported in MIMAROPA, 64 cases, including two deaths in Ilocos Region, 60 cases in Northern Mindanao, 54 and one death in Eastern Visayas, and 43 in Soccksargen.

"These regions should step up their responses against the highly communicable diseases as well as ensure that preventive measures play a vital role in preventing the spread of the disease," Duque stressed.

He assured that there is no new strain of measles and the outbreaks were due to the increasing number of unvaccinated children nationwide.

Duque appealed to the public to set aside the Dengvaxia controversy from the measles vaccines, which he said, has proven to be effective in saving the lives of millions of children annually.

"Huwag na po tayong magdalawang isip at dalhin ang inyong mga anak para magpaimmunize," Duque stressed while noting that the infection can lead to more serious and deadly complications. — Moira Beatrice A. Zamora, USC Intern, FPL, (FREEMAN)

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