DAVAO CITY – Davao health officials have been immunizing children across the city following the sudden rise in measles, with 224 suspected cases and four deaths since last November.
Of the total suspected measles cases, 93 percent or 221 had been admitted and 17 were confirmed as of January 23.
The children who died of pneumonia complications were a seven-month-old from Barangay 24-C, a two-year-old from Catalunan Pequeno, a one-year-old from Matina Crossing, and a six-month-old from Sto Nino, Tugbok. All were male.
The measles has spread fast in 38 barangays and the worst hit was Barangay 23-C, with 60 suspected cases.
On Monday night, the City Health Office (CHO) declared a measles outbreak although health teams have been going around the barangays, focusing on the 38 affected areas, to conduct the Outbreak Response Immunization (ORI).
The health teams have vaccinated 13,000 children aged five months to 59 months since the first measles case was reported two weeks ago, along with 16 call center workers who tested positive for the measles virus.
During the Pulong Pulong ni Pulong Tuesday, Councilor Joselle Villafuerte, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Health, has called on the people to submit children to measles immunization.
Villafuerte also raised the alarm before the City Council during its regular session. She also intends to coordinate with the Department of Education to monitor children who exhibit signs and symptoms of measles, such as runny nose, bloodshot eyes, fever, and rashes in the face and neck.
Villafuerte, a physician, said the measles virus could be transmitted through droplets. Its complications include pneumonia, and diarrhea, which could lead to dehydration.
According to her, several factors could have triggered the sudden increase in measles cases in the city - for one, the increase in transients or migration of people from other places.
Villafuerte recalled that more than 460 families had fled to Davao City after the Marawi siege, of which majority are in the city center.
Most of these families have settled in Barangay 23-C, which has 60 cases and with the highest measles attack rate at 35 for every 10,000 population.
The number of cases peaked from Dec. 6 to 12, the period wherein people may have stayed to spend the holidays in the city.
Another factor is overcrowding and lack of immunization. Villafuerte said that 80 percent of the suspected cases had not been immunized.
As this developed, she called on all barangay captains to accommodate and assist health teams conducting ORI.
In light of the Dengvaxia issue that created fear among parents on immunization, Villafuerte appealed to the public to have their children immunized and forget negativity on immunization.
She assured that the government health centers have enough vaccines to cover for targeted children.
The last reported measles outbreak in Davao City was in 2014 when there was also a lack of measles vaccines, Villafuerte said.
On the other hand, the CHO, through the City Information Office, advised the public to:
1) Conduct immunization/booster of measles vaccine for children 6 months to 59 months.
2) Conduct fixed site, house-to-house and health center measles immunization. Services are free.
3) Increase an information/education campaign on measles awareness.
4) Advise establishments/workplaces that if an employee shows signs/symptoms of measles, he/she should be advised not to report for work.
The signs and symptoms of measles, which are felt after about 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. pna
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