FIGHT VS. MEASLES. A health worker administers anti-measles vaccination in Palo, Leyte. With 43 deaths and 2,019 people afflicted by measles in Eastern Visayas as of July 6, the Department of Health (DOH) said the disease outbreak in the region is not over yet, but under control. (Photo courtesy of DOH)

TACLOBAN CITY – With 43 deaths and 2,019 people with measles in Eastern Visayas this year, the Department of Health (DOH) admitted that the disease outbreak in the region has not been curbed yet, but is now under control.

New cases were reported until the first week of July, indicating that measles remains a major health issue in the region, said DOH Eastern Visayas national immunization program manager Elaine Villarosa.

“The outbreak is not yet over, but it is now under control. Out of 143 towns in the region, 119 have no reported cases in the past 42 days,” Villarosa told a press briefing on Wednesday.

Of the 43 deaths from January 1 to July 6 this year, the highest number was reported in Leyte followed by Tacloban and Calbayog cities.

In 2018, the region recorded just two deaths for the first semester and 60 cases for the entire year.

Villarosa said high cases this year could be attributed to vaccination hesitancy due to the Dengvaxia scare.

The official noted that many mothers have lost their appreciation of the value of immunization due to the absence of a measles outbreak in the region for several years.

“It is really an opportunity for us to do something and encourage mothers to bring their child to immunization. In the past 30 years, our vaccines have been proven to be effective in protecting our children against measles,” Villarosa said.

In August, the DOH will kick off school-based measles immunization targeting 95 percent of learners from Kindergarten to Grade 7 in the region.

Measles, which is a highly contagious viral disease, remains one of the top causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, according to the World Health Organization.

The disease is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.

Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10 to 12 days after infection, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth.

Several days later, rashes will develop, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards. (PNA)