The measles epidemic in the Philippines has increased by some 2,200 cases in a five day span, according to the latest government numbers. From Jan. 1 through Mar. 7, 18,553 cases were reported, up from 16,349 reported on Mar. 2.

Image/Philippines DOH

CALABARZON accounts for the most cases with 4,807 cases , or 26 percent of cases nationally, followed by the National Capital Region (NCR) with 3,850.

The number of measles related fatalities has grown to 280, 59 percent reported from NCR and Calabarzon (162).

Fifty-six percent of cases were reported in children 4 years and younger.

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In the hardest hit region of Calabarzon, health officials intensified its anti-measles mass immunization campaign in the region through the Nurse Deployment Program (NDP).

According to DOH Calabarzon regional director Eduardo Janairo, nurses were deployed in all the municipalities of the region starting March 1.

“These NDPs will provide boosts to the on-going vaccination campaign as they will serve as additional manpower and vaccinator that will render house-to-house vaccination in remote and hard to reach areas of the provinces,” he said.

In the Eastern Visayas, where numbers of cases doubled in just three weeks, vaccination rates have plummeted. Last year’s immunization coverage in Eastern Visayas dropped to 55 percent from 85 percent a few years back as many mothers lost confidence in the government’s immunization program amid the Dengvaxia controversy.

However, the measles outbreak has changed the health-seeking behaviors of mothers as more of them have been coming to health centers daily to avail free vaccines for their children.

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Rabies is responsible for the deaths of at least 200 Filipinos each year