Measles was a huge public health issue for the Philippines in 2014 when the country reported more than 58,000 cases and 110 deaths. In addition, travelers from the Philippines were linked  to measles outbreaks in a number of other countries, including the United States and Canada.

Image/Howard the Duck
Image/Howard the Duck

During the first five months last year, the archipelago saw 36,493 cases and 77 deaths.

Turn the clock forward one year. During the first five months of 2015, the UN health agency has reported 1,902 cases and just two fatalities. What a difference a year makes.

Last September, the Philippines Department of Health kicked off a large measles vaccination campaign (ligtas tigdas) and reported some promising numbers that may have carried over to 2015.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that mainly affects children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initialsymptoms usually appear 10-12 days after infection, and include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.

Measles can be prevented by immunization. There is no specific treatment, and most people recover within 2-3 weeks. However, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia, particularly in malnourished children and people with reduced immunity.

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