Since January 1st, there have been 669 cases of measles in the Philippines with health authorities declaring outbreaks in several areas according to health secretary Esperanza Cabral.

Outbreaks have been declared in areas of Tondo, Manila, Las Pinas City, Cavite and Lanao del Sur. Even with the rising numbers of cases, health officials don’t think this will turn into an epidemic.

Yesterday, the Health Department confirmed seven cases through blood tests in the city of Tarlac.

After the Ligtas Tidgas vaccination campaign in 2004, there were no reported measles cases through 2006. This was a first for the archipelago.

This “vaccine preventable disease” is one of the leading causes of mortality in children worldwide.

Measles or rubeola, is an acute highly communicable viral disease that is characterized by Koplik spots in the cheek or tongue very early in the disease. A couple of days later a red blotchy rash appears first on the face, and then spreads, lasting 4-7 days.

Other symptoms include fever, cough and red watery eyes. The patient may be contagious from four days prior to the rash appearance to four days after rash appearance.

The disease is more severe in infants and adults. Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20% of people infected include; seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis.