DOH steps up drive vs measles amid outbreak

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is stepping up its campaign against tigdas or measles, following the increase in the number of cases recorded last year and outbreak in some barangays in Metro Manila.

The DOH reported that there were 1,724 cases of measles nationwide from January 1 to December 14, 2013, with 43% or 744 cases recorded in Metro Manila alone.

Some 21 barangays in 9 cities have declared an outbreak in their areas, according to state-run Philippine News Agency. These barangays include:

Measles is a viral, highly-contagious respiratory disease. Infected persons exhibit symptoms such as high fever, red eyes, runny nose and cough. Rashes would then appear throughout the body after two days.

The illness can be spread through cough or direct contact with body secretions of an infected person.

You know it's #measles if you wake up with red eyes, runny nose, cough along with fever that can reach up to 40 Two days later .... — Doc Eric Tayag (@erictayagSays) January 2, 2014 Two days later after initial symptoms of #measles, reddish, raised rashes appear behind the ears that spread to cover head thrn whole body — Doc Eric Tayag (@erictayagSays) January 2, 2014 You spread #measles thru cough or direct contact with body secretions/fluids. It usually takes 10 days after exposure before illness begins — Doc Eric Tayag (@erictayagSays) January 2, 2014

Free vaccination

DOH Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag, on his Twitter account, reminded Filipinos that vaccination is free in all health centers nationwide.

#measles vaccination is FREE in health centers NATIONWIDE @DOHgovph — Doc Eric Tayag (@erictayagSays) January 2, 2014

Tayag noted that children who missed their measles vaccine shot 5 years ago are more vulnerable to measles now and in the coming days.

As a precautionary measure, Tayag told parents to have their children immunized, saying that babies aged 6 to 11 months should take their first vaccine shot, while they should be vaccinated the second time when they are 12 to 18 months old.

He also advised students who exhibit symptoms of measles to stay home and not go to school on Monday, January 6.

The DOH will meet with health officers in Metro Manila and civil society organizations on Monday to step up its vaccination drive, said Tayag. –