More measles cases detected in Philippines

The Philippines fights the outbreak of measles in the capital region

Authorities in the Philippines have declared an outbreak of the highly contagious measles virus in several areas including the capital, Manila.

DOH earlier declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila following the 550 percent increase in patients contracting the virus from January 1 to February 6 this year compared with the same period last year. Overall, cases jumped from 791 in 2017 to 5,120 previous year.

The health department and public health advocates blamed the measles outbreak on a massive health scare over Dengvaxia, the once-promising dengue vaccine introduced by the government three years ago.

Last year, vaccination coverage was reported to be at around 40 percent. According to the department, 2.4 million children have not received their vaccines.

The scare started in late 2017, shortly after some 837,000 children were given the vaccine.

While the government has made a concerted effort to eradicate the disease, parents' fear over a recent dengue fever vaccine have caused immunization rates to drop, Vice President Leni Robredo said.

Sanofi has unequivocally said its product is safe, but Manila still halted the campaign and left hundreds of thousands of terrified parents wondering if their children were at risk.

These regions need to scale up their response against measles and have all unvaccinated children vaccinated against measles, to stop it from spreading.

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In 2016 the rate was about 75 per cent, but this fell to 60 per cent in 2017. It it likely to have fallen further past year.

"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.

"The DOH today is raising the red flag for measles in other regions of Luzon, Central and Eastern Visayas aside from yesterday's declaration in the NCR", the DOH secretary stressed.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.

"Parents, caregivers tell us they are afraid to have their children vaccinated because of Dengvaxia", said Dr De Guzman.

The DOH also declared a measles outbreak in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and Bicol.

THE Department of Health (DOH) has raised a nationwide measles alert after the air-borne disease has spread to other areas outside of Metro Manila.



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