DOH raises ‘red flag’ as Bicol measles cases soar
LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Health (DOH) in Bicol on Friday raised a “red flag” health alert status after a surge on measles cases was noted in the region.
Dr. Ernie Vera, DOH acting regional director, said the raising of the alert status is a health countermeasure that would place the measles cases under careful watch to prevent an outbreak.
Quoting a DOH Epidemiology Bureau report, Vera said that as of January to Febuary this year, records from various provincial health offices revealed that 424 measles cases were recorded.
The report also said six of the affected children had died of the disease.
Highest incidence in Albay
Vera said that Albay, with 124 cases, had the highest incidence, followed by Camarines Sur with 109 cases.
Meanwhile, Sorsogon province recorded 85 cases; Masbate, 83; Camarines Norte, 21; and Catanduanes, one.
Of the six children who died of the illness, three were from Masbate while the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon had one fatality each.
The DOH study points to vaccine hesitancy as one of the reasons for the measles outbreak.
The DOH data indicate that from January to February this year, a total of 11,459 confirmed cases of measles were recorded, with 189 fatalities from Jan. 1 to Feb. 20 this year.
No outbreak yet
Vera said health measures were already in place to quickly respond to mitigate a possible outbreak.
The measures include an aggressive information and immunization campaign that would encourage children to get vaccinated, he said.
“We are taking these measures one to two steps ahead to prevent an outbreak,” he said.
When asked if the measles incidents in Bicol could be declared an outbreak, Vera said the determination would depend on given parameters, which, in the case of Bicol, the incidence had not yet reached the given threshold for it to be declared an outbreak.
However, Vera said the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and Bicol had shown an increasing trend.
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