ILOILO City – The number of suspected measles cases in Western Visayas surged to 688 with three deaths, latest data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed. The youngest – and confirmed – case was a four-day-old baby from Bacolod City.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. The virus is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.
As of yesterday, Negros Occidental had the most number of suspected cases (253) followed by Antique (161), Bacolod City (97), Iloilo province (76), Aklan (40), Iloilo City (26), Capiz (24), Guimaras (two), and others (nine).
According to Dr. Mary Jane Juanico, Child Health Program medical coordinator of DOH Region 6, specimens from the 688 suspected cases were sent for analysis at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Metro Manila and so far 33 were confirmed to be measles indeed. The four-day-old baby was one of these.
On average since Feb. 15, according to Juanico, between 13 to 56 suspected cases were being reported to DOH-6 daily. The number could still rise as laboratory tests continue.
The four-day-old confirmed case was a girl. She likely got it from her mother who showed symptoms of measles (rashes) after giving birth, said Juanico.
The baby was born on Feb. 1 at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City.
According to Juanico, the mother likely contracted measles between seven to 18 days (third trimester of pregnancy) before giving birth.
The RITM, however, has yet to release the results of its laboratory analysis on the mother’s specimen.
As of yesterday, the city health office of Bacolod described the condition of both the mother and daughter as “managed”; they were thus discharged from the hospital.
Juanico, however, said DOH-6 would continue monitoring the mother and her baby.
The most serious measles complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
Meanwhile, the oldest suspected measles case in the region was a 64-yar-old man from Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, said Juanico.
She then urged women of reproductive age – those between 15 to 49 years old – to be careful at all times.
“Dapat indi sila ma-expose sa mga positive cases sang measles,” said Juanico.
Women contracting measles during the first trimester of pregnancy usually suffer from miscarriage, she said.
Initial measles symptoms, which usually appear between 10 to 12 days after infection, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
DOH has started a door-to-door measles immunization campaign targeting children aged six to 59 months old.
“We encourage the parents and guardians to submit their unvaccinated children for measles vaccination. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect you and your community. Our vaccines are free and have been proven safe and effective,” DOH stressed in a statement.
While global measles deaths have decreased by 84 percent worldwide in recent years — from 550,100 deaths in 2000 to 89,780 in 2016 — the World Health Organization (WHO) said measles is still common in many developing countries, particularly in parts of Asia and Africa.
An estimated seven million people were affected by measles in 2016. The overwhelming majority (more than 95 percent) of measles deaths occur in countries with low per capita incomes and weak health infrastructures, according to WHO./PN