Written by Staff Writer
08 Feb, 2019 | 10:29 am
Authorities in the Philippines have declared an outbreak of the highly contagious measles virus in several areas including the capital, Manila.
There have been 1,813 measles cases and 26 deaths since January 26, 2019, according to the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau. This is an increase of 74% since 2018. Measles can be very dangerous for small children and babies. There is a growing concern about the 2.4 million children who have not been vaccinated children against the disease.
Parents have been reluctant to have their children immunized at government health centres following the complications that arose related to the dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.
Dr Gundo Weiler, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to the Philippines, said immunization rates were well below the target of 95% and decreasing. In 2016 the rate was about 75%, but fell to 60% in 2017 and has likely fallen further in 2018. “In this scenario, we have a pool of children building up over time who are not protected and who are susceptible to measles,” Dr Weiler said.
Measles is a highly contagious airborne disease which spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. Initial symptoms usually include a fever, cough, runny nose and inflamed eyes. A red rash appears on the face and body a few days later.
WHO warns of a possible resurgence of measles globally.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque told local media that bronchopneumonia from measles complications can be fatal, and encouraged parents to bring in their children for immunization. “Parents should not wait for complications to set in because it might be too late,” he said.
“We are declaring an outbreak as cases have increased in the past weeks and to strengthen surveillance of new cases and to alert mothers and caregivers to be a lot more vigilant,” Mr Duque said in a statement.
Initially, the epidemic was only declared for Metro Manila and Luzon, but on Thursday(February 07) the Department of Health expanded the outbreak area to include other parts of the Philippines.
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