CONFIRMED cases of measles in Bagiuo City rose to seven just for the period of February 26 until Friday, with 60 more suspected cases being placed under surveillance and testing of the city health services office.

“Technically it’s already an outbreak because by the definition of the word itself, there is already a sudden increase in the number of cases which we have than in previous years,” epidemiology and surveillance unit head of the city health officer Dr. Donna Tubera said.

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This increase caused the city health office under Dr. Florence Reyes to launch a simultaneous immunization of 95,000 children aged six months to 12 years old in the city.

The immunization started Monday.

As of Friday, more than 45,000 children were already given vaccines or one half of the targeted population, including all school children in the city.

“The type of measles the city health office is monitoring is caused by the rubeola virus which is different from German measles or tigdas-hangin caused by the rubella virus,” Tubera said.

Tubera said the rubella virus, which causes measles, is a highly contagious virus usually transmitted from person to person through infected air droplets and direct contact with an infected person.

The signs and symptoms include rashes starting at the forehead and neck spreading through the body and lasting for about three days coupled with high-grade fever.

Other signs of the disease include cough, red eyes, and runny nose.

In Baguio City, Tubera said the city health office traced the start of spread of the virus from a foreclosed building, which is still being used as a residential area in Barangay Kayang-Hilltop.

She said the building is no longer conducive for living because of its unsanitary state.

“Most of the confirmed cases of measles infection came from the area,” Tubera said.

Since measles is airborne and is passed on through droplet infection or through close contact, Tubera said suspected cases were also started to be reported in nearby barangays.

The city health office said measles may cause death, especially for children who were not vaccinated because they die of complications such as brain infections, or most often pneumonia.

Other children may also develop complications, such as sever under nutrition, Vitamin A deficiency that can lead to blindness, ear infection and deafness, diarrhea and dehydration.

Tubera advised parents of children showing signs and symptoms of measles to immediately consult a physician and isolate the patient in a well-ventilated room.

She also advised not to let anyone with colds or cough visit the patient, keep the patient warm in bed, protect the patient’s eyes from strong light, disinfect nasal and throat discharges from the patient and keep the patient’s personal eating utensils, clothing, beddings, and other articles separate from the family members’ things.

The only way to prevent measles, according to an advisory of the city health office, is to avoid direct contact with measles patients and have children immunized against measles that have no known cure.

When there are increasing measles cases, groups to be immunized include children below 12 years old and below.

Baguio City is intensifying efforts to immunize school children before the end of classes as the summer vacation may prove to be a bigger threat. (JM Agreda)