Measles cases in Negros Occidental increased by an alarming 3,333 percent in January this year compared to the same period last year, triggered by the Dengvaxia controversy that has scared parents off from having their children vaccinated, Provincial Health Officer Ernell Tumimbang said yesterday.
The Department of Health ha sdeclared a measles outbreak in Western Visayas, that includes Negros Occidental and Bacolod City, along with other areas in the Visayas and Luzon.
“We are expanding the outbreak from Metro Manila to other regions as cases have increased in the past weeks, and to strengthen surveillance if there are new cases and alert mothers and caregivers to be more vigilant,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
Measles cases in Negros Occidental from January 1 to 26 this year were 103 compared to 3 in the same period last year, Tumimbang said.
Of the 103 reported measles cases in January this year, Calatrava, Murcia and Sagay City had the highest number at 9 each, followed by Himamaylan City with 8, San Carlos City – 7, Silay City – 7, Hinigaran - 6, Toboso - 6, Kabankalan City - 5, Salvador Benedicto – 5, Talisay City – 5, Victorias City - 4, Cauayan – 3, Escalante City – 3, Isabela – 3, Pontevedra – 3, Bago City – 2, E.B Magalona – 2, Moises Padilla - 2, Pulupandan - 2, Cadiz City – 1, La Castellana -1 and San Enrique – 1.
Negros Occidental had the most number of measles cases in Western Visayas last month.
Tumimbang said the surge in measles cases began in August last year from relatively low numbers in the first half of 2018.
There were 370 measles cases in Negros Occidental in 2018 or a 1,380 percent increase from the 25 cases in 2017, he said.
In 2018 the measles cases from January 1 to 31 were 4, February – 3, March – 12, April – 12, May – 9, June – 4, July – 3, August – 20, September - 43, October - 87, November - 100, and December - 76, Tumimbang said.
San Carlos City had the most number of reported measles cases in 2018 at 47, Kabankalan City -41, Bago City – 30, Talisay City - 20, La Carlota City – 20, Isabela -19, Salvador Benedicto -18, E.B Magalona – 17, Murcia – 17, Hinigaran - 16, Silay City - 16, Calatrava - 15, Himamaylan City - 13, Victorias City - 10, Escalante City – 8, Binalbagan -7, Cauayan - 6, La Castellana – 6, Pulupandan – 6, Valladolid – 5, Sagay City – 5, Hinobaan – 5, Pontevedra – 5, Cadiz City -4, Manapla – 3, San Enrique – 3, Candoni -2, Moises Padilla -2, Sipalay City -2, and Toboso – 2.
The PHO report said the highest number of cases in 2018 were from the adults or the above 19 years old age group, and most were unvaccinated.
Tumimbang called on mothers not to be afraid to have their children vaccinated for measles because of the Dengvaxia controversy. He also called on health workers and teachers to help explain the importance of having children protected from measleswhich can be deadly, by subjecting them to vaccination.
In 2018 there were three reported deaths from measles in Negros Occidental in San Carlos City, Bago City and Binalbagan, Tumimbang said
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is transferred from person-to-person by sneezing, coughing, and close personal contact. Its signs and symptoms include cough, runny nose, red eyes/conjunctivitis, fever, skin rashes lasting for more than 3 days, a Department of Health advisory said.
The complications of the diseaseinclude diarrhea, middle ear infection, pneumonia (infection of the lungs), encephalitis (swelling of the brain), malnutrition, and blindness which may lead to death, it said.
“Supportive measures like building the nutritional status of the sick person and increasing oral rehydration are important measures to increase body resistance and replace lost body ﬂuids caused by coughing, diarrhea, and perspiration,” Duque said, adding that immunization and vitamin A supplementation of nine-month old children and unvaccinated individuals are the best defenses against measles.
The DOH is advising parents to bring their children at the first sign of fever to the nearest health facility for prompt treatment and proper case management.*
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