By Connie Calipay
LEGAZPI CITY --- The regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) here is closely monitoring incidents of measles in Bicol after recording a 300-percent increase in cases from 2017 to 2018 during similar period.
“Since measles is a vaccine preventable disease, it is very alarming that in Bicol there is an increasing number from suspected up to confirmed cases of measles, as well as the number of deaths,” Dr. Monrey Isaiah Mancilla, DOH medical officer III, said on Tuesday.
Mancilla believed that some factors that contributed to the increased number of cases may be the recent issues on vaccination that caused parents to lose confidence on its effect, the busy schedule of parents, and the adverse reaction and fear of injections.
DOH recorded 239 cases of measles from January to September this year in six provinces of the Bicol region, compared to the 61 cases recorded in 2017.
Out of the 6 provinces in Bicol, Masbate has the highest number of measles with 28 for 2017 to 80 for 2018.
Camarines Sur followed with 8 for 2017 to 69 for 2018; Camarines Norte with 6 for 2017 to 63 for 2018; Sorogon with 7 for 2017 to 12 for 2018, and; Albay from 6 for 2017 to 12 for 2018.
The island province of Catanduanes, meanwhile, noted a decline of cases from 6 in 2017 to only 3 in 2018.
Mancilla explained that measles immunization starts at nine months old and followed during the 12th month of the baby. “One dose of Measles-Mumps- Rubelle (MMR) vaccine is approximately 93 percent effective at preventing measles, while two doses are approximately 97 percent effective,” he added.
Measles immunization provided by the government for free saves children’s lives as it prevents children from getting seriously ill.
The doctor said that measles as a highly contagious viral disease is transmitted through coughing and sneezing, and close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.
Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10 days after infection, include high fever, cough, runny nose (coryza), bloodshot eyes (conjunctivitis), tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth (koplik’s) and after several days, rashes will develop, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
He added that for the measles death by age, they recorded from babies from 7 month-old to 5 year-old.
As a counter-measure the department conducts its regular awareness program through massive information, education campaign, supplemental activities, routine immunization and school-based immunization.
“We also initiated “Basta Wednesday, Barangay Bakuna Day” to give the public weekly access to government health services,” he added.