GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 March)– Health authorities here are bracing for a possible measles outbreak as suspected cases of the highly contagious viral disease in the area have continued to increase in the last several weeks.
Dr. Edgardo Sandig, city health officer, said Thursday they are closely monitoring at least three barangays in the city due to the rising incidence of suspected measles, which already reached a total of 43 cases since January.
He said such figure is higher by 38 cases or nearly 760 percent when compared to last year but no fatalities have been so far recorded.
Most of the suspected measles cases, which mainly affected infants and children aged six months to 12 years old, were reported from communities in portions of Barangays Tambler, Lagao and Labangal.
The official said they have submitted to the Department of Health (DOH) in Manila some blood samples taken from patients who exhibited the disease’s symptoms for confirmatory testing.
Sandig noted that a single confirmed or positive case of measles is already considered by the DOH and the World Health Organization as an outbreak.
“We should have eliminated this disease a long time ago so whenever a confirmed case comes out, we consider it as an outbreak,” he said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.
In 2013, the city health office recorded just five cases of measles, two of which later turned out positive for rubella or german measles.
The DOH Region 12’s regional epidemiology and surveillance unit reported that a total of 121 suspected measles cases were recorded in the entire region last year.
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Dr. Baby Allah Vingno, DOH-12’s regional epidemiologist, said the suspected measles cases affected residents aged four months to 70 years old, 56 percent involving females.
She said no fatalities were reported but 50 percent of the cases involved patients with history of past measles immunization.
Vingno said 52 or 43 percent of the cases were eventually classified as non-measles, 45 were considered as measles compatible, 10 confirmed as rubella and 10 others were still pending classification.
Meantime, as part of their efforts to contain the disease, Sandig said they launched anew a massive measles vaccination drive in the city’s 26 barangays.
He said the measles vaccination involves infant and children aged six months to 12 years old.
The official said they advised parents of children aged five years old and below who have exhibited symptoms of the disease to immediately seek treatment in local health centers.
He said the measles symptoms include high-grade fever, heavy cough, colds, emergence of skin rashes and conjunctival region or redness in the eyes. (MindaNews)