Measles outbreak declared in Sarangani town

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 July) — Health authorities have declared a measles outbreak in Alabel town in Sarangani Province due to the increasing cases of the highly contagious viral disease in the area.

Dr. Honorato Fabio, Alabel Municipal Health Office (MHO) chief, said Tuesday they already recorded a total of 189 “clinically-confirmed” measles cases and two fatalities as a result of its complications in nine of the town’s 13 barangays.

He said majority of these cases were detected in the last three months, starting from the second week of April.

“The increase was very unusual and quite significant. So far, almost all our barangays are already affected by the outbreak,” he told MindaNews in a telephone interview.

Fabio said the outbreak mainly affected parts of Barangay Pag-asa, which posted 110 cases in the months of May and June alone.

The other measles cases were detected in barangay Domolok with 44; Alegria with 16; Poblacion with nine; Datal Anggas with four; Bagacay and Kawas with two each; and, Paraiso and Ladol with one each, he said.

He said the two fatalities, who were all children, came from Barangays Pag-asa and Alegria, which recorded the initial measles cases.

The official said they earlier took blood samples from the patients and sent them to the Department of Health’s (DOH) Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City but it has yet to release the results.

The DOH and the World Health Organization consider a single confirmed or positive case of measles by way of serological examination as an outbreak.

But Fabio said they declared the outbreak even with the absence of the test results from the RITM, noting that measles could easily be detected and confirmed clinically.

Last year, the Alabel MHO only recorded a single case of measles within the town’s 13 barangays. It listed seven cases in 2012 and 33 in 2011.

No fatality case was recorded in the area out of the confirmed measles cases from 2011 to 2013.

Owing to the outbreak, Fabio said officials of Barangays Alegria, Poblacion and Domolok have declared their areas under the state of calamity.

He said their office immediately recommended the same declaration for the entire municipality but the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council resolved that there was no need for such move.

To address the problem, Fabio said they have intensified their disease surveillance and measles immunization activities in the entire municipality.

He said the immunization or vaccination drive involves infants and children aged five years-old and below.

Fabio said they advised parents of children within the targeted age range 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)