MANILA — The health department on Wednesday said measles and rubella cases in the Philippines increased by 153 percent in the first 9 months of this year compared to the same period in 2021.
The Department of Health said it tallied 450 cases of the diseases from Jan. 1 to Sept. 17, compared to 178 during the same period last year.
The DOH, citing assessments from United Nations agencies, earlier said that an outbreak of measles was possible in 2023 because of the low number of children receiving routine immunizations.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease spread by sneezing, coughing, and close personal contact. Its symptoms include cough, runny nose, red eyes, fever, and skin rashes lasting for more than 3 days.
Complications include diarrhea, middle ear infection, pneumonia, encephalitis or swelling of the brain, malnutrition, and blindness which may lead to death, according to the DOH website.
Meanwhile, rubella or "tigdas hangin" infection in pregnant women may cause fetal death or birth defects, said the agency.
In its report, the DOH said most cases of measles and rubella this year were detected in Calabarzon with 70 cases, Central Visayas with 61, and Metro Manila with 47.
Recently, or from Aug. 21 to Sept. 17, the DOH noted that 68 cases were recorded.
"Regions IV-A, VIII, IX, X and XII showed case increases in the recent four morbidity weeks (August 21 to September 17, 2022)," it said.
During the same period, the health department said 5 out of 17 regions (Regions II, IV-A, V, VII, and NCR) surpassed the measles epidemic threshold levels.
"Nationally, 36 cases were classified as laboratory-confirmed measles, while 37 cases were classified as laboratory-confirmed rubella," the DOH said.
Two deaths were logged in August and September, it said.