MANILA - The only way to prevent measles is through vaccination, a health official said Wednesday, following an alarming rise in suspected cases of the infectious disease in parts of Luzon.
"Para makaiwas sa tigdas, bakuna talaga ang number 1," Health Assistant Secretary Enrique "Eric" Tayag told "Bandila sa DZMM."
He said measles, locally known as "tigdas," is a highly infectious virus that can spread rapidly, especially in areas where children have not been immunized.
"Sapagkat sa bawat 1 kaso, 9 hanggang 18 ang maaaring mahawa, lalo na at kung walang bakuna. Airborne kasi 'yan," he said.
Infected children, Tayag said, can spread the disease from 4 days before to 4 days after the rash appears.
"Kaya importante malaman, kung may tigdas sa bahay, dapat i-isolate 'yun, hindi masasama sa ibang bata, lalo na at kung walang bakuna," he added.
Fever, dry cough, and runny nose usually appear 10 to 12 days after infection. Broncho-pneumonia accounts for most deaths of children infected with measles, he said.
During the interview, Tayag sought to clarify reports about the supposed measles outbreak in the National Capital Region and Central Luzon.
"Subalit hindi kami nagde-deklara ng outbreak sa buong rehiyon. So, 'yan lilinawin namin bukas kung may mga city o distrito sa loob ng isang lungsod, o sa isang eskuwelahan, isang kalye, para malinaw ang pagde-deklara ng outbreak," he said.
Tayag also said the increase in measles cases may have been caused by low immunization coverage in the aftermath of the Dengvaxia scare.
"Ayaw namin mag-speculate, subalit hindi natin masisisi 'yung kababayan natin at mga kapanalig ng Department of Health na sisihin ang PAO (Public Attorney's Office) na dahil sa Dengvaxia ay bumababa 'yung vaccination rate," he said.
He added, "Subalit kailangan maging objective tayo at merong magawang pag-aaral para masabi natin na 'yung takot nila sa Dengvaxia eh nailipat nila sa pagkatakot sa bakuna. Subalit pakiramdam namin eh ganun nga."
Last year, the government recalled the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia after its manufacturer, France's Sanofi-Pasteur, said it could cause severe symptoms if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne disease.
Public Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta said on Monday that she shouldn't be blamed for the Dengvaxia scare since she merely based her statements on complaints filed by Dengvaxia victims.