Albay braces for possible measles outbreak

LEGAZPI CITY (PNA)--The local government here is preparing communities for the possible outbreak of measles following advisories from the Department of Health (DOH) based on several suspected cases recently reported in Albay province and across Bicol.

“We cannot afford to be complacent even as no confirmed or suspected case of measles has been reported yet in the city out of the alarming number of cases monitored around Albay province as of this month,” said City Mayor Noel Rosal on Friday.

The DOH Bicol regional office based in the nearby Daraga town has reported 12 suspected measles cases in Albay as of the first half of this month.

Across Bicol, 14 cases from Camarines Sur, two from Sorsogon and one from Masbate were reported during the same period.

Rosal said he has instructed the City Health Office (CHO) to initiate precautionary measures such as the conduct of door-to-door immunization and have all eligible members of each household in the 70 barangays of the city immunized.

This massive immunization drive is to be coordinated with the DOH regional office which has the logistics such as the supply of vaccines and manpower resources composed of teams of medical field personnel, the mayor said.

Dr. Fulbert Alec Gillego, the CHO chief, said his office is also conducting a massive information campaign through community assemblies, radio broadcasts and reading materials to heighten the awareness of local communities on the prevention and treatment of measles.

He explained that measles, also called rubeola, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body.

It is, however, a treatable disease but deadly due to complications such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, blindness, otitis media and encephalitis, if not treated promptly.

It could also be prevented through immunization with measles vaccine, Gillego said.

Immunization should take place while a child is nine-month old with first-dose measles vaccine providing at least 85-percent protection.

A 12-month-old child with a second-dose mumps-measles-ruvilla vaccine is protected at least 95 percent, he added.

Meanwhile, the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Education (DepEd) here said it is now implementing an anti-measles campaign in public schools under DepEd Memo No. 03 s.2014 recently issued by Educ. Sec. Armin Luistro.

The memo, according to DepEd Regional Director Ramon Fiel Abcede is “in response to the increase in the number of individuals contracting measles” nationwide as per advisory of the DOH.

School heads all over Bicol have been instructed to send home students exhibiting flu-like symptoms to rest and recuperate while DepEd is also asking schools to disseminate information about measles and immunization procedures as well as report identified cases to concerned local health units, Abcede said.

They have also been advised to coordinate with the local government health units for the complete vaccination of children, he added.

“We are adopting a systematic relay of information regarding students' and teachers' state of health through the Preventive Alert System in Schools (PASS) wherein school principals must conduct, monitor, and maintain records of students and personnel’s daily health inspection,” Abcede said.

Under this system, he added, pertinent information are relayed to the Schools Division Superintendents and to the DepEd central office for review and appropriate action.

As these developed, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) Bicol regional office here has announced that its beneficiaries can already avail of claims on measles cases on its admission package in the wake of the increasing number of cases in the region.(PNA) PDS/FGS/DOC/CBD/