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PIA Press Release

DOH 8 records 363 measles cases in East Visayas, mostly in Samar province

Tacloban City (November 11) -- The Department of Health in Region 8 has recorded to date, 363 cases of measles in Eastern Visayas, Mr. Boyd Cerro, Sentinel Nurse of DOH said.

Mr. Cerro said that most of the cases are from the province of Samar where clustering of measles cases have been observed particularly in the towns of Paranas, Calbiga, Gandara and in the hinterland barangays of Calbayog City.

Of the 363 cases, the Department of Health was able to get laboratory specimen samples of the 63 cases. Only 14 cases have been confirmed as measles. About 34 of the 63 samples were found to be non-measles but rubella cases.

Cases of measles have been observed in the other provinces of Region 8 but the cases are negligible and there is no clustering observed. In Tacloban City, for example, only one case of measles has been reported, Mr. Cerro added.

The Department of Health Region 8 is calling on all health workers to heighten their surveillance and monitoring of measles cases in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

The Health workers are also called to conduct mopped up immunization of children under 5 years of age, to at least 80% of the children population. The health workers were directed to look for the missed children and to immunize them.

Measles is an infectious viral disease. It is highly contagious, so highly contagious that practically no one who has had no immunization against the measles virus can go through life without getting afflicted with the disease.

The measles virus is transmitted by inhalation of airborne droplets from nasal or throat secretions of infected persons, direct contact with nasal or throat secretions or urine, and contact with articles freshly soiled with nasal or throat secretions.

The usual presenting sign of measles is fever that appears eight to 13 days after entry of the virus into the body. The fever is typically accompanied by non-specific respiratory tract symptoms that include cough, sore throat and runny nose. Sometimes redness of the eye and photophobia (sensitivity of the eyes to light) also occur. Three to seven days after the start of the illness, the blotchy red skin rashes that characterize measles emerge. The skin rashes first appear on the face then spread throughout the body in a matter of days.

A person with measles is communicable from the onset of fever to four days after the appearance of the skin rashes.

There is no specific treatment for measles. In well-nourished children, the disease is rarely serious, subsiding spontaneously in one to two weeks. But in poorly nourished children, the disease often complicates. The more common serious and often fatal complications of measles are pneumonia, diarrhea and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Although there is no treatment for measles, there is a very effective way of preventing it. This is with the use of the measles vaccine. Indeed, and this is in answer to your question, it is possible to eliminate the disease completely from the country by immunizing a certain percentage of the population with the vaccine. In fact, the Philippines has already attempted to do this.

In 1998, the Department of Health (DoH) embarked on a countrywide measles elimination program called "The Measles Elimination Campaign" that aimed to eradicate measles in the Philippines by the year 2008.

The first phase of that 10-year program, dubbed "Catch Up Measles Campaign," involved a month-long countrywide vaccination of children who are nine months to below 15 years of age. The well-conducted campaign was completed in April 1999 and reached more than 96 percent of the targeted children. The campaign was an unqualified success. The number of reported cases of the disease went down from an average of 12,000 (with 3,000 deaths) per annum before the start of the campaign to just 3,000 in 1999.

The second-phase of the program, dubbed "Ligtas Tigdas" was conducted in February 2004. As in the first phase, free measles vaccines were given, but this time only to all children between nine months and eight years of age. (PIA 8) [top]

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