By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

In 2019, the Philippines was hit hard by a measles outbreak–between 1 January and 31 December 2019, a total of 47,871 cases of measles, including 632 deaths, were recorded, with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 2.6 per cent.

Image/Howard the Duck

In February last year, the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported outbreaks of measles in five Regions, namely the National Capital Region, Central Luzon (III), CALABARZON (IV-A), Western Visayas (VI) and Central Visayas (VII). This was followed by outbreaks being reported in all 17 regions.

The good news through May this year, the total measles case count on the archipelago stands at a fraction of 2019 with 3,334 (691 lab confirmed) and five deaths.

However, of the 4,500-plus measles cases reported in the Pacific region, the Philippines accounts for some 73 percent of the cases.

Poor immunization coverage is widely recognized by health specialists as the root cause of the measles outbreaks.

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Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In fact, the measles virus can stay in the air for up to two hours after an infected person was there. People may be infected by simply being in a room where an infected person once was. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.

Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. The vaccine is safe and effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children receive their first dose of MMR vaccine between 12-15 months of age and a second dose between 4-6 years old. More than 95% of the people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all three viruses. A second dose boosts immunity, typically enhancing protection to 98%.