Measles kills 9 in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 August) — Health authorities in Region 12 have recorded nine deaths in parts of the region due to complications caused by suspected measles infection during the first six months of the year.

Dr. Alah Baby Vingno, Department of Health (DOH) Region 12’s chief epidemiologist, said Tuesday the nine fatalities were among the 1,575 measles cases that were recorded by local health offices in the region from January to June.

The region only had a total of 148 suspected measles cases in the entire 2013 and with no death case or fatality during the period.

A report released by DOH-12’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit showed that Sultan Kudadat province reported the first fatality during the first quarter of the year.

It said the case involved a five-month-old baby and “with the final diagnosis of pediatric community acquired pneumonia moderate risk, to consider measles.”

The eight other cases were recorded in the second quarter or from April to June in various parts of the region.

Also known as Soccksargen, the region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

The health offices of Alabel in Sarangani and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato earlier reported two deaths each due to suspected measles following noted outbreaks in their areas.

Vingno said that the 1,575 suspected measles cases involved residents aged seven days to 60 years-old and with most cases noted among the children aged four years-old and below.

A case recorded in South Cotabato was classified as laboratory-confirmed rubella measles, 42 as non-measles, 662 as measles compatible while 797 cases are still pending classification, she said.

She said more than half or 51 percent of the cases involved males while 1,179 or about 75 percent had no history of measles immunization.

North Cotabato posted the most number of suspected measles cases with 455, followed by South Cotabato with 391, Sarangani with 249, this city with 193, Sultan Kudarat with 186 and Cotabato City with 101.

The official said they submitted 384 of the suspected cases to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for laboratory confirmatory testing and 73 turned out positive of the viral disease.

“Three of the cases had history of travel in Boracay, Manila and General Santos City two weeks prior to onset of illness,” she said.

In 2013, she said they recorded 11 laboratory-confirmed measles cases out of 148 that were submitted for testing.

Vingno said the measles incidence per one million populations in the region is currently at 16, increasing by nearly 14 when compared to the 2.4 recorded in 2013.

She cited that the elimination goal for the disease is less than one indigenous measles case per one million population. (MindaNews)