GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/ 26 November) – At least 17 children were reported to have died in several remote communities in Malapatan town in Sarangani Province in the last three weeks due to a suspected measles outbreak.
Dr. Diomedes Remitar, Malapatan Municipal Health Office (MHO) chief, said Monday the victims, which included infants, reportedly died several days after exhibiting severe symptoms of measles infection.
He said the suspected outbreak was monitored in Sitios Lower and Upper Kyogam, Mahayag, Lino, Datal Nai and Alna of Barangay Upper Suyan.
The affected villages, which are among the remotest areas in the municipality, are inhabited by the B’laan tribe.
Remitar said the reported fatalities were based on information relayed by barangay health workers and officials of Barangay Upper Suyan.
“These are considered suspected measles cases as we have not conducted confirmatory tests on the fatalities,” he said in an interview over local television program Magandang Umaga South Central Mindanao.
The health officer suspects that some of the reported fatalities could have suffered from diseases other than measles.
As of Monday, at least 23 people from Barangay Upper Suyan are confined at the R.O. Diagan Hospital here after earlier showing symptoms of suspected measles like high fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis and other flu-like illnesses.
Hospital records showed that 15 of the patients, which included a four-month-old baby and a seven-month pregnant mother, have confirmed measles infection and are currently under isolation in at least three rooms.
Boyet Ogan, chair of Barangay Upper Suyan, said around 100 people, mostly infants and children, were affected by the outbreak.
He said the initial measles cases were monitored in one of the sitios last Nov. 5 and rapidly spread to the other areas.
As part of their interventions, Remitar said they have already vaccinated around 500 infants and children in the area against measles.
He said their office has provided medicines and treatment to some of the affected residents.
“It’s quite difficult to access the affected communities due to their remoteness and the problematic roads,” he said.
Remitar added that they also had difficulty getting proper information from these areas as it requires a hike of at least 20 hours to reach them. (MindaNews)