File photo courtesy of Department of Health/file photo

The Provincial Health Office (PHO) urged parents in Palawan on Thursday to bring their children to nearby local health facilities to be vaccinated against measles (tigdas), a highly contagious respiratory disease that can lead to brain damage and even death.

The call was made by the PHO following the declaration of an outbreak in the MIMAROPA recently by the Department of Health (DOH).

Based on available data released by the DOH in the region, as of last month to February 7, Palawan has already recorded 15 cases of measles, the second highest in MIMAROPA with one death.

Oriental Mindoro is on top of the list with 103 cases.

File photo borrowed from HEPS DOH IV-B

For the MIMAROPA, the figures posted a 3,400 percent increase compared to two cases of measles with no death reported in 2018.

“Nakapagtala na tayo ng mga kaso ng tigdas. It’s high time para dalhin ng mga magulang ang kanilang mga anak sa health centers para mabakunahan laban sa measles. Ito ay delikado, nakakamatay kaya kailangan ng proteksyon ng kanilang mga anak,” Meyrick Garces, Public Health Services head of the PHO, said.

(We have already recorded cases of measles. It’s high time for parents to bring their young children to the health centers to be immunized against measles. It’s dangerous and can lead to death so young children must be protected.)

The town of Coron posted the highest number of 11 measles cases in Palawan, including the reported death of a three-year-old girl on January 24.

El Nido follows with two recorded cases, and the other two were reported from Puerto Princesa City and Quezon town in southern Palawan.

Garces said that at the first sign of fever, parents must immediately bring their children to the doctor for prompt treatment.

He said vaccination and vitamin A supplementation to nine-month-old children are the best defenses against the measles.

“Sa ngayon ay on-going ang ating pagbabakuna sa mga munisipyo at mga supplemental immunization activity para sa six-month-old babies to less than five years old. Dapat na silang bakunahan at inuulit po natin ‘yan para masigurado ang kaligtasan nila,” he said.

(Right now our immunization and other supplemental immunization activities are on-going in the municipalities for six-month-old babies to less than five years old. They should already be vaccinated and we repeat that to ensure their protection.)

Spotting symptoms

According to the DOH, measles is a respiratory disease that can be transferred person-to-person through coughing, sneezing, personal contact.

A young child might have the disease if he/she manifests coughing, runny nose, inflammation of the conjunctiva (red eyes), skin rashes lasting more than three days, and fever.

If not managed, its complications include diarrhea, middle ear infection, pneumonia (infection of the lungs), encephalitis (swelling of the brain), malnutrition, and blindness which may lead to death.

“Supportive measures like building the nutritional status of the sick person and increasing oral re-hydration are important measures to increase body resistance and replace lost body fluids caused by coughing, diarrhea, and perspiration,” DOH Sec. Francisco Tiongson Duque III said.