D​​OH on Dis​​neyland measles outbreak: Not one country’s fault

Jee Y. Geronimo
D​​OH on Dis​​neyland measles outbreak: Not one country’s fault
Philippine health officials say that while the outbreak may be 'associated with the Philippines,' it doesn’t necessarily mean the first case was exposed to a Filipino

MANILA, Philippines – The genotype of the recent measles outbreak linked to Disneyland in California, USA, m​ay be “associated with the Philippines,” but ​the outbreak is not the fault of one country alone, said Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin.

“It’s multifactorial…​If you talk about a possible outbreak due to a virus, there are two factors: the source and the susceptibility of the community,” she said on Friday, February 20.

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently identified the recent measles outbreak in the United States as identical to the virus type responsible for large outbreaks in the Philippines in 2014.

The Philippines saw an upsurge of measles cases at the start of 2014. By August 2014, the health department admitted the Philippines had “exported” the highly-contagious disease to countries like the United States, Japan, Australia, and Singapore.

But Garin said the health department took action “aggressively.”

“What is important is the whole world can see that we are responding, and then we are cooperating,” she said. The Philippines itself wants to reach a measles-free status by 2017.

​Department of Health spokesperson Lyndon Lee Suy clarified that even though the genotype is “associated with the Philippines,” it doesn’t necessarily mean the first case of the Disneyland measles outbreak was exposed to a Filipino.

He echoes CDC officials, who said that​ in the past 6 months, the measles virus type has also been identified in 14 other countries and at least 6 US states not related to the current outbreak. (READ: Disney measles outbreak spreads to more US states, Mexico)

“If outbreaks happen in the US, it’s highly probable that the immunization coverage, especially the second dose (measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine) that’s given at 9 months, was not given. Or many were not able to get vaccinated,” Garin said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The CDC reported that from December 28, 2014 to February 13, 2015, 125 people from 7 US states are part of the measles outbreak linked to Disneyland.

Garin said they will check into the ongoing tracing of the traveler from whom the outbreak started. – Rappler.com

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.