The Philippines Department of Health has reported a near tripling of measles cases during the first month of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017, according to a Measles Disease Surveillance Report recently published.

A total of 877 suspect measles cases were reported nationwide from Jan. 1 to Feb. 3, 2018. This is almost triple the number of cases reported during the same period last year (293 cases). 12 measles related deaths were reported with half coming from Region XI.

Half of the cases were reported from two regions–ARMM and Region IX and the provinces most affected include Zamboanga del Sur, Maguindanao and Davao del Sur.

The majority of cases are under the age of four and were unvaccinated, according to the report.

Outbreaks have already been declared in Zamboanga City and Davao City.

Measles is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Measles virus is highly contagious and can remain so for up to 2 hours in the air or on surfaces. Symptoms of measles are rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes.

Face of child with measles. Image/CDC
Face of child with measles. Image/CDC