TACLOBAN CITY — Measles cases in Eastern Visayas continue to surge as the outbreak has already killed 16 children while nearly 200 cases have been added in more than a week, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Monday.
Cases of this highly-contagious infection have been alarming in the region as the number of victims rose to 463 as of February 18 from 268 nine days ago. Since Jan. 1, the outbreak has claimed the lives of 16 children in the region.
DOH Eastern Visayas regional information officer John Paul Roca said the number of victims has been rising every day as many parents refused to get free vaccines for their children last year due to the Dengvaxia controversy.
Of the 16 deaths, four were reported each in Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte.
Other areas with one death each were Alangalang, Dagami, Pastrana, and San Miguel in Leyte; Calbayog City, Catbalogan City, Gandara, and Pinabacdao in Samar.
Most cases were recorded in Leyte – 191, followed by Samar -102, Tacloban City – 98, Ormoc City -23, Eastern Samar -19, Biliran -11, Northern Samar -9, Calbayog City -6, Southern Leyte -3, and Maasin City -1.
The DOH confirmed that some nurses at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center and Leyte Provincial Hospital have been infected by measles, prompting the government to give vaccines to all health workers treating patients with measles.
The DOH has already deployed health teams in some areas to help control the diseases as the number of cases is expected to rise until April due to low immunization coverage last year.
“Immunization for measles is undertaken every day in local government units down to village level through house-to-house and fixed site approach. We invite parents to bring their children to gymnasiums, village health centers, rural health centers, and village halls. The targets are ages six to 59 months, including pre-school and Grades 1 to 6,” Roca said in a phone interview.
Among measles victims, more than half of them were not vaccinated, or have unknown vaccination status.
Last year’s immunization coverage in Eastern Visayas dropped to 55 percent from 85 percent a few years back as many mothers lost confidence in the government’s immunization program amid the Dengvaxia controversy.
Measles immunization provided by the government for free saves children’s lives as it prevents children from becoming seriously ill.
The highly-contagious viral disease remains one of the top causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, according to the World Health Organization.
The disease is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.
Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10 to 12 days after infection, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth.
Several days later, rashes will develop, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards. (PNA)