21 dead as DOH declares measles outbreak
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health appealed to parents to have their children vaccinated against measles on Friday as it declared an outbreak of the disease in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Eric Tayag, who is also director of the National Epidemiology Center, said that from Jan. 1 to Dec. 14, 2013, there were already 1,724 confirmed measles cases nationwide, 21 of which led to death.
He added that among the 17 regions in the country, only four did not report an increase in the number of measles cases. These are Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao and the Caraga region in Mindanao.
The National Capital Region had the most number of cases with 744.
Measles outbreak had been declared in the following Metro Manila areas: Quiapo, Sampaloc, Tondo, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Port Area and Sta. Mesa in Manila; Dagat-dagatan and Bagong Barrio, in Caloocan City; Talon 5, Talon 2 and Pamplona Uno in Las Piñas; Longos and Tonsuya in Malabon; Alabang and Putatan in Muntinlupa; North Bay Boulevard South in Navotas; Moonwalk and Don Bosco in Parañaque; Bagong Tanyag in Taguig; and Ugong in Valenzuela.
But Tayag noted that mass vaccinations had already been conducted in those places.
He said mass vaccinations would also soon be conducted nationwide, preferably during the summer break.
He urged parents to bring their children, especially those between the ages of 6 to 18 months, to health centers for free vaccination.
Tayag noted that measles is a contagious viral illness, which can be deadly.
He said it commonly spreads among children and even adults, but the most susceptible are children 10 years old and below.
He said infants and children with measles should be hospitalized.
Children 6 to 18 months old must complete the required two vaccinations to prevent them from contracting measles, he said.
Newborn children must take the first preventive vaccine shot for measles upon reaching 6 months to 12 months.
The second vaccine shot should be taken upon reaching the age of 12 months to 18 months.
“These two consecutive shots must be taken to avoid having the risk of getting measles,” he said.
He said measles usually begins with common cold symptoms like high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes that can last for several days before the appearance of a red, blotchy rash.
Tayag suggested that parents bring down the fever with paracetamol and sponge bath to prevent the onset of convulsions, and to get rid of the thick discharges from the nose.
He also urged parents to count a child’s inhalations, noting a child less than five years old with more than 40 breaths per minute may have pneumonia.
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