THE Department of Health (DOH) on Monday declared a measles outbreak in six areas in some parts of Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Mindanao where most of the hundreds of cases were recorded since January this year.

Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said an outbreak of measles was declared in Baseco Compound and Moriones in Tondo, Manila; Barangay Pulang Lupa in Las Piñas City; Central Market in Dasmariñas, Cavite; San Francisco town in Quezon province; and Balabagan town in Lanao del Sur.

Cabral said a total of 570 cases of measles have been recorded from January to February 5 this year with children aged one to nine as its common victims. The identified areas were the towns and cities with most number of cases.

“Measles is an airborne disease and is contagious. The disease can also be aggravated due to over crowding and congestion,” she said in a radio interview.

The DOH chief said health workers have been sent to different parts of the country to conduct immunization services against measles.

“The public should be reminded that measles vaccination is for free in our public hospitals and health centers,” Cabral said as she reminded parents to have infants undergo vaccination as early as nine months after birth.

For his part, DOH National Epidemiology Center director Eric Tayag said although an increase of measles cases are expected during the summer season, another reason behind outbreaks is the high percentage of children who were not vaccinated.

Tayag said they are also hoping to contain the declared outbreaks to avoid an epidemic with the massive immunization programs they are now conducting all over the country.

Cabral advised the public to limit exposure to the sun to avoid heat-related illnesses, including measles.

He also advised the public to limit exposure to the sun to avoid heat-related illnesses and avoid staying in over crowded areas particularly in places near the identified towns and cities.

The DOH said symptoms of measles include fever, general weakness and occasionally red eyes. These symptoms usually come before the characteristic skin rash confirming the onset of measles.

Although measles is usually a self-limiting disease, it can cause complications in people with weak immune systems, including diarrhea, pneumonia and encephalitis, and corneal ulceration leading to corneal scarring.

If rashes and complications appear on a patient, the DOH said it is advised to seek professional medical attention and refrain from self-medication. (PNA/Sunnex)