DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 January) – The influx of people migrating to Davao City from different parts of the country may pose a risk of transmitting diseases to the Dabawenyos, an official said, citing the occurrence of a measles outbreak.
City Health Office head Josephine Villafuerte told a press briefing on Thursday that a single case of measles could lead to an outbreak in a community if no mitigating measures are taken like vaccinations.
“Davao City is a center for trade and commerce in Mindanao, thus influx of people coming from different parts of the Philippines made it vulnerable for disease transmission,” she said.
She explained that people could easily get infected with the virus if they’re living in tightly packed households in urban poor areas like in Barangay 23-C, one of the most crowded areas “where airborne transmission easily happens.”
She said houses in these areas are clustered and located proximal to each other and have more than one family living in one-room spaces.
As of January 23, the CHO reported a total of 252 suspected cases of measles with 11 deaths, but Villafuerte stressed that they have yet to confirm if these patients died of measles.
Pneumonia was the leading cause of death for children infected with measles because they are “very vulnerable to illness,” she said.
Of the 252 suspected cases, she said the government conducted confirmatory tests on 224 children under 5 years old. At least 16 have so far been confirmed, she said.
She added the city declared a measles outbreak because the latest number of patients infected with the disease was the highest since 2012 where only one case was recorded.
“One case of measles could lead to an outbreak most especially if immunity is low because the coverage of immunization is also low,” she said.
Villafuerte said most of the patients are below 5 years old, as this is the age group that has not yet been immunized.
She said 9- to 12-month old babies could already get the vaccine.
The health office encouraged parents to submit their children for immunization because it is a lifetime protection from measles.
As of January 23, the CHO had immunized 55,021 children out of the 151,468 target.
Villafuerte said they find it difficult to immunize the children in some cases because the parents would refuse.
She said children don’t get vaccinated because the parents are either too busy or they view it as against their beliefs.
In a press release on Wednesday, the City Information Office said the CHO has been conducting measles immunization for children 6-59 months old and information campaign in homes and workplaces.
It added the signs and symptoms of measles, which are felt after around two weeks of exposure to the virus, are high fever, cough, colds, sore throat, inflammation of the eyes, skin rashes, and white spots on the inner lining of the cheeks. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)