An outbreak of potentially deadly measles or rubeola was declared by the Department of Health (DOH) in many cities of Manila while Kalibo, Aklan was put under a state of calamity.
According to DOH, a situation is an outbreak if there is even just one case, confirmed or suspected, in a community where there is previously none or an when there is one case per two weeks for two consecutive weeks interval.
Amidst the outbreak is the question why? Dr. Eric Tayag, Asst. Secretary and Health Department Spokesman explained, “Say you have two million children to vaccinate every year; a 90 percent measles vaccine coverage means 10 percent were unvaccinated or in five years (time), one million unvaccinated.”
Let’s look at the numbers.
Two thousand thirteen saw to the rise of measles in the Philippines with 1, 742 reported cases from January 1 to December 14 including 21 deaths. Metro Manila had the most number of cases at 744, followed by Southern Luzon with 436, and Western Visayas with 282.
In 2011, approximately 158,000 people died from measles, mostly children under the age of five, according to the World Health Organization.
To date, measles remains to be one of the leading causes of death among young children globally.
Two thousand seventeen (2017) is the year set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the elimination of measles in the Asia Pacific Region where the Philippines is in.
Let’s Know More.
DOH said that the outbreak cannot be quickly contained because despite the now organized mass vaccination effort that will cover 11.7 million children below five years of age across the country, it will take weeks before the immunized develops immunity.
In fact, DOH foresees an increase in cases because measles is considered a highly contagious viral disease that is transmitted via droplets from the nose or throat. Death is due to complications of the disease such as pneumonia and diarrhea.
Initial symptoms include fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth followed by rash which develops after a few days.
There is no specific treatment for measles but it can be prevented by immunization. Thus DOH calls to parents to bring children from 6-11 months old to health centers for their first dose of measles vaccine and 12 – 18 months old for their second dose.
However, because the vaccine is an attenuated or mild form of the virus to prevent adverse effects, a strong body resistance must be possessed by the child. Mr. Tayag advises giving vitamins such as Vitamin A to the children receiving immunization.
Anybody who has not already had measles can be infected. Therefore, is important to observe proper isolation precaution to prevent its spread.
A person with measles is considered infectious from 4 days before the onset of measles to 5 days after.
The spread of the virus can be prevented by providing mask to the person with measles, proper hand washing procedure, proper ventilation and personal protective equipment for the people caring for the patient.
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