Officials with the Department of Health 8 (DOH-8), which covers the Eastern Visayas in the Philippines, have declared “white code alert” status due to the measles outbreak in the region, particularly in Leyte.

Image/krystianwin via pixabay
Image/krystianwin via pixabay

The declaration would mean an incident command system (ICS) would be established and that hospitals and its manpower are ready to respond to any emergency situation including emergency services.

Since the beginning of the year,  540 measles cases, including 19 deaths have been recorded. This compares six cases in the same period last year. Majority of the cases were from Leyte with ages ranging from 21 days to 80 years old.

More than half were unvaccinated. DOH-8 immunization program manager, Ma. Elena Villarosa advised parents to bring their children to the nearest health center to have them immunized with the measles vaccine especially for infants and children who are 6-59 months old and those below five years old.

Nationally, the Philippines has reported a total of 12,736 cases through Feb. 24, including 203 fatalities. This is a significant increase compared to 2,789 cases and 25 deaths reported in the same time period in 2018.

Measles is a virus that causes fever and a rash. It is highly contagious and anyone who is not vaccinated against the virus can get it at any age.

How contagious is measles? Answer: Very

Measles is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. A person will start being contagious four days before a rash appears. They will stop being contagious four days after the rash appears.

The virus remains active and contagious on surfaces for up to two hours.

Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles. Anyone who has received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine is highly unlikely to get measles.