NORTHERN Mindanao has registered rising suspected cases of measles from January to February this year with 152 compared to the same period last year with only nine according to the Department of Health in Region 10.
Dr. David Mendoza, head of the Regional Epidemiology, Surveillance and Disaster Response Unit of DOH-10, said that among the cities and municipalities in the region Cagayan de Oro has the highest number of suspected cases with 59 recorded.
Mendoza said the clustering of cases have been noted in barangays Bulua, Cugman, Carmen and Gusa.
He, however, emphasized that the sudden surge of cases is not considered an outbreak since there were only seven cases of measles in the region that were confirmed based on the specimens tested at Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and most importantly sans death.
With the existing cases of measles, Mendoza advised parents to avail their children of free measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine at their nearest health centers.
Asuncion Ilogon, regional EPI coordinator, said the first MMR vaccination is routinely injected to babies around 13 months old and the booster shot of the vaccine when children start school.
Adults could also get the MMR shots.
Ilogon reminded parents to get the right information on this viral infection. Getting immediate medical intervention will help prevent complication and deaths from measles.
“Most children with measles easily recover. Measles kills because of pneumonia, acute diarrhea with severe dehydration or acute encephalitis which are some of the complications of measles,” Asuncion emphasized.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), measles virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
WHO said anyone can easily catch measles by breathing in these droplets or, touching the surface where droplets could have settled and placing hands near nose or mouth.
The measles virus can survive on surfaces for a few hours.
Inside the body, the virus multiplies in the back of your throat and lungs before spreading throughout your body.
WHO advises people with measles to avoid work or school for four days since they can infect others and to limit the spread solitary confinement is highly recommended. The first symptoms develop until about four days after the rash first appears.
With or without vaccination, anyone can get measles and it is common to infect in children between 1 to 4 years old. Once a person gets measles, it is rarely to develop the infection again in the future since the body builds up immunity or resistance to the virus, she said.
Ilogon admitted that the surge of measles recorded in the region has been due to failure of parents to get their children vaccinated with MMR which is given free.
Lovey, a mother of two, complained that in Barangay Puntod some mothers did not get their children immunized because needles used to inject the vaccine is charged with P15.
Dr. Ma. Elen Santua, head of the Family Health Cluster of DOH-10, cleared that immunization campaign is free of charge. DOH has it advertised massively on television and radio.
Santua urged individuals to report such incidents to their office for immediate action.
Her office couldn’t investigate the allegations of Lovey unless she files a written complaint.
In order to prevent the further spread of measles, Asuncion said they will map out possible ways such as conducting a door-to-door vaccination drive in order to protect the public against measles, especially the children, pregnant mothers, among others.
Ilogon said her office targets 95 per cent of measles immunization in the region.