Friday, February 8, 2019

26 Dead in Major Measles Outbreak in Philippines

measles, philippines

Millions of unvaccinated children in the Philippines are at risk of catching the highly contagious measles virus, as health bosses issued warnings over a major outbreak.

So far this year, there has been a 74 percent increase in measles cases and deaths compared to 2018, according to the country's Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau.

As of January 26, there have been 1,813 measles cases and 26 deaths from the virus.

The disease can be deadly for young children and babies. There is now concern for 2.4 million unvaccinated children.

Vaccination rates have dropped dramatically after complications related to the dengue vaccine made parents reluctant to have their children immunised, according to the BBC.

Dr Gundo Weiler, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to the Philippines, said immunisation rates were well below the target of 95 percent and decreasing.

In 2016 the rate was about 75 percent, but fell to 60 percent in 2017 and has likely fallen further in 2018.

measles, philippines

"In this scenario we have a pool of children building up over time who are not protected and who are susceptible to measles," Dr Weiler told the broadcaster. 

Measles is transferred from person-to-person by sneezing, coughing, and close personal contact. Its signs and symptoms include cough, runny nose, red eyes/conjunctivitis, fever, skin rashes lasting for more than 3 days.

Complications from the disease can also lead to death in some cases.

The outbreak had first been declared in Metro Manila and Luzon. On Thursday, the Department of Health expanded the area to include other regions of the Philippines.

By Bonnie Christian, Evening Standard 

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