Measles outbreak declared in Olongapo

By Bebot Sison Jr., The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 18 2014 08:29 AM | Updated as of Jan 18 2014 04:29 PM

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – The city government here has declared a measles outbreak as the number of patients infected by the viral infectious disease has continued to rise since the start of the year.

The city council unanimously approved Wednesday a resolution declaring a measles outbreak after 80 probable measles cases, mostly children, were reported from Jan. 1 to 14.

“We unanimously approved the resolution declaring the measles outbreak to facilitate holistic and swift responsive actions to protect the health, welfare and well-being of the people of Olongapo as well our neighbor communities,“ City Councilor Noel Atienza told The STAR.

“Eighty patients with suspected measles cases (are being) treated at our hospital, with one confirmed death since Jan. 1, and more patients with suspected viral infectious disease are continuously arriving,” Jessie Manuel, administrator of James L. Gordon Hospital, told The STAR.

“We are giving patients strong dozes of antibiotics to address complications such as pneumonia, and patients have been placed in an isolated area to prevent the spread of the viral infectious disease,” he added.

Manuel also said that at least 90 percent of the patients with measles are below five years old, with the youngest at one-month-old.

He noted that while only infants nine months old and above are vaccinated, city health workers are studying the possibility of getting vaccines that may be given to infants below nine months as the victims have become much younger.

Atienza appealed to parents to bring their children to health centers for free vaccination as most of the patients have not yet been given vaccination.

City health workers are also conducting house-to-house vaccination and information drive to prevent the spread of measles.

City Mayor Rolen Paulino said the vaccination campaign targets infants and children in the barangays as well as adults who have not completed their vaccination.

Cases increasing in Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya

Meanwhile, the Quirino provincial government has intensified its measles surveillance and control after it detected four more measles cases in the towns of Diffun, Cabarroguis and Nagtipunan this month alone.

Ruth Garnace-Payumo, Quirino health education officer, said the patients may have contracted the disease in Manila where an outbreak was declared earlier.

“Based on our surveillance report, the disease did not originate in the province. They may have contracted (the virus) when they were in Manila and Bulacan,” said Payumo, also the provincial coordinator of the expanded program on measles immunization.

Measles cases also continue to rise in Nueva Vizcaya as nine more residents have been afflicted with the disease since Jan. 5.

Nueva Vizcaya has been experiencing an increase of measles cases since November, with 40 cases, including the death of a one-year-old boy. This prompted the DOH to declare an outbreak here earlier this month. – With Charlie Lagasca, Ric Sapnu, Evelyn Macairan