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Philippines reports spike in measles cases in 2 regions
Publication Date : 11-08-2014
Measles has killed at least 44 people, mostly children, in Central Luzon and Central Mindanao regions in the Philippines in the first six months of the year, reports from the Department of Health (DOH) showed.
In Central Luzon, 35 people died from measles as the number of suspected cases in the region rose sharply to 5,445 in the first six months of the year.
The January-June cases were 3,681.2 per cent higher than the 143 cases reported in the same period last year, the DOH said.
In 2013, most of the Central Luzon victims were children ages 5 and below, many of them unvaccinated.
In Central Mindanao, nine patients died from the disease in the same period, said Dr. Teogenes Baluma, the DOH regional director.
The good news, according to a report by the regional epidemiologist, Dr. Alah Baby Vingno, was that out of the 1,575 suspected cases monitored in the provinces of Sarangani, South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan in Central Mindanao, only 73 were confirmed cases.
The DOH said the number of measles cases in Central Luzon increased from 13 to 1,237 in Zambales province; 16 to 1,190 in Bulacan province; 61 to 855 in Tarlac province; 15 to 821 in Pampanga province; 29 to 686 in Nueva Ecija province; and nine to 598 in Bataan province. Aurora province registered 58 cases from zero last year.
The Central Luzon cases confirmed by laboratory tests reached 902. Bulacan has the highest number of confirmed cases at 282.
The DOH said the mass immunization in 2011 significantly reduced measles and rubella transmission, but there had been some significant outbreaks of measles cases in 2013 nationwide, prompting the agency to conduct a national measles, rubella and oral polio vaccine mass immunization (MROPVMI) program in September.
“Notably, there is a high gap between the coverage with MCV1 (measles vaccine at nine months) and MCV2 (measles, rubella vaccine at 12 to 15 months),” the DOH reported.
Vaccination programs against measles target 11 million children. In the seven Central Luzon provinces, the DOH intends to vaccinate more than a million children, said Dr. Lailani Mangulabnan, the DOH Central Luzon medical coordinator.
Baluma said many people in Central Mindanao who were afflicted with measles had no history of immunization.
In July, a measles outbreak downed 198 people in Sarangani, which prompted health authorities to launch house visits in at least nine villages of Alabel town.
Honorato Fabio, Alabel town health officer, said two children died of the disease since it was first detected there in April. Fabio admitted that this year’s measles rate in the town alarmed health authorities because in 2013, only one case was recorded there.
The DOH in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) also said 12 children died in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi between January and May this year due to measles.