THE Department of Health (DOH) warned that cases of measles in the country would further climb after nearly 700 cases were recorded in the first six weeks of the year.

In a press conference, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral reported that there are already 669 measles cases that have been admitted to hospitals nationwide from the period of January 1 to February 13.

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Cabral admitted that “this is 70 percent higher compared to the same period in 2009 when there were 394 cases reported.”

But Cabral said the deaths recorded due to measles remain lower this year with only one death in the National Capital Region (NCR) as against the two recorded last year.

She added that due to the huge number of infants without vaccination, they are fearful that more could become infected.

The DOH has conducted a massive anti-measles vaccination program specifically in schools.

“If the vaccination rate is 85 percent, ibig sabihin, yearly, merong 500,000 children na natitirang hindi nababakunahan,” the health chief said, adding that the onset of the summer season could also contribute to the increase in the cases in the coming months.

“Madaling magkahawa-hawa ang mga batang naglalaro. Kapag bakasyon kasi mas intense yung mga paglalaro nila sa labas. Pag may isa dun na nagkatigdas at wala pang nababakunahan dun sa population of children na yun, magkakatigdas rin ung mga iba,” explained Cabral.

Dr. Eric Tayag, head of the DOH National Epidemiology Center, said measles is highly-contagious since it is an airborne disease.

“Four days even before the rashes start to appear up to four days after the rashes appeared, measles can still be spread by an inflicted person,” Tayag added.

The DOH had declared the presence of measles outbreak in Baseco Compound and Moriones in Tondo, Manila; Barangay Pulang Lupa in Las Piñas City; Balabagan town in Lanao del Sur; Central Market in Dasmariñas, Cavite; and San Francisco town in Quezon

Clustered cases of measles were also observed in Barangay San Antonio in Parañaque City; Barangay Maliwalo, Tarlac City in Tarlac; Sitio Mabolo, Antipolo in Rizal; Pinamarbuhan, Masbate in Masbate; and in Walang, Lambunao in Iloilo.

Signs of measles include flu-like symptoms such as fever, general weakness and occasionally red eyes to be followed by the skin rash. It can also cause diarrhea, pneumonia, and encephalitis. (MSN/Sunnex)