Measles cases up in Central Luzon

By Ding Cervantes, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 14 2014 12:37 AM | Updated as of Jan 14 2014 08:37 AM

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga , Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has reported a 112 percent increase in measles cases in Central Luzon last year.

DOH Expanded Program on Immunization head Lailani Mangulabnan yesterday said field reports showed that there were 432 cases last year or a more than 100-percent increase compared to the 204 cases reported in 2012.

The measles patients came from Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Zambales.

DOH Central Luzon director Leonita Gorgolon attributed the increase of cases to the low coverage of immunization in the region.

She also clarified that there is no measles outbreak in the region and that there was no cause for alarm, even as she noted that cases in Metro Manila were even higher.

“Our surveillance report shows that no fatalities were recorded to date. So it is safe to say that here in the region, we have contained the disease,” Gorgolon stressed.

Measles is a highly infectious and communicable disease caused by a virus.

Symptoms include high fever, cough, conjunctivitis and colds. If not properly managed, it can lead to complications such as blindness, encephalitis, pneumonia, diarrhea and even death.

Anna Ma. Teresa de Guzman, provincial health officer of Pangasinan, advised residents to avoid crowded places like shopping malls amid concerns over the spread of measles.

She said there were 26 measles cases in the province last year.

De Guzman said most of the patients were from Rosales town, followed by Mabini, Lingayen, San Nicolas, San Quintin, Alaminos, Natividad, Mangatarem, Bolinao, and San Carlos City.

In Metro Manila, the Taguig City government through the city health office yesterday launched a more aggressive and free immunization drive against measles.

Mayor Lani Cayetano said the immunization campaign targets infants and schoolchildren in the city’s elementary and high schools, as well as adults who have not completed their immunization.

“We are bringing our health services closer to our constituents, and I want to encourage parents and those who have not received their complete vaccination yet to avail of this service,” Mayor Cayetano said.

Taguig City health officer-in-charge Isaias Ramos said the immunization drive will prioritize barangays where measles caes have been confirmed, especially the barangays of Lower and Western Bicutan. – With Eva Visperas, Mike Frialde