By LITO RULONA
HEALTH officials have stepped up the government’s anti-measles campaign in an effort to prevent the cases from shooting up in Region 10.
In Cagayan de Oro alone, the City Health Office recorded three deaths due to measles and at least 38 cases in January alone. The Department of Health’s regional surveillance unit however counted two deaths.
Throughout Region 10, the DOH noted an increase in measles cases compared to the same period last year. The Department recorded 264 cases in January alone — the patients were hospitalized throughout Region 10.
“Medyo mitaas gamay sa Region,” said Dr. David Mendoza, head of the Epidemiology and Disaster Response Unit of the DOH in northern Mindanao.
Mendoza said specimen were sent to the DOH central office, and doctors here are waiting for the release of the results.
He said the government has enough anti-measles vaccines for children.
But he said the current supply of vaccines wouldn’t be enough in the event of a measles outbreak in the region.
Mendoza said health workers in the region, including thir counterparts in the various local governments, have been asked to intensify the information campaign on measles and on the need for vaccination.
He called on families to avail of the free measles vaccines from the local governments and health centers.
“Kinahanglan gyud nga ang tanang bata ma-bakunahan,” Mendoza said.
The DOH has already declared a measles outbreak in many parts of the country like Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and western and central Visayas.
Mendoza said children as young as six months old can receive the vaccines if their mothers have not been vaccinated. But if the mother has been vaccinated, the child can receive the vaccine at nine months old.
“The measles virus can be caught from the air for up to two hours even after an infected person leaves the area. Unvaccinated young children are at high risk of measles and complications, including death,” he said.
“Ang ato karon double preventive measures nga magpabakuna to avoid a possible outbreak. Kadtong wala magpa-bakuna kinahanglan magpabakuna for our own protection. Kadtong wala mabakunahi nga medyo edaran na possible nga maapektuhan,” he added.
Mendoza said the virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected droplets or spread from the air when infected people cough, sneeze or just breathe.