THE Department of Health (DOH) reported Friday that measles cases in the country have reached alarming level, soaring by nearly 500 percent in the first six months year-on-year.

Based on the latest Disease Surveillance Report, the DOH–National Epidemiology Center (NEC) said there were a total of 3,354 cases recorded from January 1 to July 3.

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The figure is 489.5 percent higher compared to the 569 cases recorded during the same period last year.

Of the cases, 1,654 were laboratory-confirmed, 1,620 are clinically-confirmed, and 80 were confirmed epidemiologically.

Some 467 suspected measles cases, according to the NEC, are still waiting for confirmation.

The number of deaths also rose from only three in 2009 to 17 during the first half of 2010, with 10 coming from the National Capital Region (NCR).

“Nine of the fatalities were less than 12 months of age, four cases belonged to the 1 to 4 years age group, 2 cases is from 5 to 9 years age group…,” said the report.

Last March, at least 18 communities recorded measles outbreak with the total number of confirmed cases went higher than previous the year.

Health officials had also then said they are looking at the possibility that the outbreak is being caused by a new strain coming from abroad. (AMN/Sunnex)