MANILA (Updated) -- Despite the recent outbreak of measles, the Department of Health (DOH) assured on Friday that there is no new strain of the air-borne virus.

Citing the findings of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), DOH Undersecretary Ted Herbosa said they did not find any new strain of measles circulating in the country.

“The virus circulating, it’s the same strain. It’s not a new strain. We have already confirmed this,” said Herbosa.

He said this only means that the vaccine being given by the health department to the public is effective.

“If there is a new strain, that is alarming since it would mean that the vaccine we are giving the public would be ineffective,” said Herbosa.

There have been fears that a new strain is circulating and has caused a spike in measles cases, especially in Metro Manila. Last year, the DOH registered a total of 1,724 laboratory-confirmed measles nationwide, with 744 coming from Metro Manila, where outbreaks have been declared.

These are in Quiapo, Sampaloc, Tondo, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Port Area, and Sta. Mesa in Manila; Dagat-Dagatan and Bagong Barrio in Caloocan City; Talon 5, Talon 2, and Pamplona Uno in Las Piñas City; Longos and Tonsuya in Malabon City; Alabang and Putatan in Muntinlupa City; North Bay Boulevard South in Navotas City; Moonwalk and Don Bosco in Parañaque City; Bagong Tanyag in Taguig City; and Ugong in Valenzuela City.

The DOH–National Capital Region (NCR) already launched a door-to-door measles vaccination campaign in all Metro Manila cities to all children between six months to 59 months in a bid to protect them from acquiring the virus.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) said the public should take the measles threat seriously as it affects the most vulnerable members of the society: the children.

“As pediatricians and pediatric infectious disease specialists, who are in the front lines of the battle against childhood diseases, especially vaccine-preventable diseases, this situation is unacceptable,” said the PPS and the PIDSP.

They, then, urged the public to avail themselves of the vaccinations being offered by the government.

The PPS and the PIDSP said they recommend measles vaccine or the trivalent vaccine containing three components, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) to children, adolescents, and even adults with incomplete or no vaccination.

“Vaccines are available and highly effective and safe. Let us all work with the government and increase our vaccination coverage. We believe that one act, multiplied by 93 million Filipinos will definitely turn the situation around,” said the PPS and the PIDSP.

For their part, other private health professionals had vowed to cooperate with the government in fighting the measles outbreak.

In a statement, the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) and the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) said private practitioners and hospitals shall be more active in reporting incidents and cases to help determine an accurate picture of the extent of the problem that will allow government authorities to take appropriate actions.

“We are reminding doctors that early recognition of the signs and symptoms related to measles and other infectious diseases, presenting fever and rashes, is very critical,” said the PCP and PSMID in a joint statement. (HDT/Sunnex)