By RHAYDZ B. BARCIA
LEGAZPI CITY: The Department of Health in Bicol is bracing against the increasing cases of measles in the region after the province of Albay posted 12 cases and the province of Sorsogon reported two more recent cases.
As early as first week of January this year, Albay reported the highest cases of measles, known locally as “tipdas”, whose patients are now confined for treatment at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) here.
Two days ago, acting Provincial Health Officer Nathaniel “Nats” Rempillo reported eight suspected measles patients in the province.
With this, Rempillo mobilized all health personnel and barangay health workers across Albay to conduct massive immunization for children to curtail the spread of the viral disease.
Meanwhile, the city health officer in Naga, Dr Butch Borja, reported in a media interview here last Wednesday that Naga for two years now has zero case of measles because of successful immunization campaigns among children and adults.
But this is no reason to be complacent in view of the reported outbreak in other towns in the province, Borja stressed.
Last year, measles outbreak took place in Bicol where out of the 140 reported, 18 cases were confirmed positive through laboratory examination, DOH Regional Director Gloria Balboa told reporters in a press briefing held at DOH regional office here in Legazpi City Wednesday morning.
Albay and Sorsogon had six cases each last year, followed by Camarines Sur with five, and Masbate with one case.
Measles outbreak were noted in the towns of Camalig, Daraga, and Legazpi City in Albay province; Castilla and Pilar in Sorsogon province; Caramoan, Magarao, and Pili in CamSur and Palanas town in the island province of Masbate.
All government health offices in Bicol have been directed to conduct massive immunization and prevent further the spread of the disease which traditionally hit children aged 6 months and below and up to five years old.
Balboa said all must participate in the campaign as both parents and local government units must meet halfway. She added that “measles is a preventable disease if we only everyone follows what they are advised to do, like religiously submitting their children to immunization even before any outbreak would arise.
Measles is a viral disease which is highly communicable. It is transmitted from person to person through sneezing, coughing, and close personal contact.
Dr Aurora Teresa M. Daluro, DOH medical specialist III and RESU chief in Bicol said that measles is treatable which becomes deadly when complications arise such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, blindness, otitis media, and encephalitis are not treated immediately.
Daluro told Bicol Mail that a nine-month-old child vaccinated with first dose measles vaccine is 85% protected while a 12-month-old child with second dose of mumps-measles-ruvilla (mmr) vaccine is protected at least 95 percent from contagious disease.
In 2011, the Department of Health in Bicol allocated P14 million for door-to-door measles-rubella immunization among children in the homes.
Some 1,000 health workers were mobilized across the region for the purpose hoping that by 2012 measles would significantly be eliminated under the program “Iligtas sa Tigdas ang Pinas”. Unfortunately, measles has again resurged throughout the country with alarming proportions. – Bicol Mail