Measles outbreak declared in Zamboanga City

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Health (DOH) has declared a measles outbreak in Zamboanga City, which has a total of 166 cases so far in 2018. 

The lone fatality is the case of a 6-month-old boy who died on February 6.

"[He] presented all signs and symptoms of measles such as fever, rash, cough, coryza, conjunctivitis, malaise, and dyspnea," the DOH said on Saturday, February 24.

The DOH attributed the outbreak to "low vaccine coverage in the past years which led to the accumulation of susceptible individuals."

"Upon interview of key individuals, it was learned that there was a low measles vaccine coverage with the last supplemental immunization conducted in 2014. Selective catch-up immunization was conducted in affected area during the last quarter of 2017 with the aim of increasing vaccine coverage," the DOH said.

With that, the department said it is "resolute in its desire to win back the trust and confidence of the public on vaccination, following the Dengvaxia controversy."

"We appeal to all mothers and guardians to ensure that their children receive the complete doses of measles vaccine, the 1st dose at 9 months of age and the 2nd dose at 12 months of age," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

He added: "Let us not lose sight of the benefits that other vaccines have provided to us. These have been proven to be very effective in preventing diseases as we have seen in the past." 

The DOH advised parents and teachers to "immediately isolate children with fever and rashes."

"Seek consultation for those with complications such as pneumonia or diarrhea and for health workers to seek laboratory confirmation for suspect cases," Duque said. (FAST FACTS: What is measles, and how can it be prevented?)

Before Zamboanga City, a measles outbreak had also been declared in the Davao Region, and Davao City.

(UPDATE: After Zamboanga City, a barangay in Taguig City, Negros Oriental, and Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental also declared an outbreak.) – Rappler.com