The number of suspected and confirmed measles cases in the Philippines more than doubled during the past month, according to World Health Organization data.


The number of cases for the first three months of 2015 is now 1,320. This is up from 561 just the month before.

An additional measles fatality has also been reported in March, bringing the total to two.

In all of 2014, the Philippines saw 58,010 suspected cases of measles, including 21,420 confirmed cases and 110 deaths.

In China, health authorities put the total measles case count from January to March 2015 at 32,819. This includes 13 measles deaths.

The case count nearly doubled in China as through February, 18,520 suspected and confirmed cases were reported.

Other countries in Asia reporting high number of measles include Malaysia (885) and Vietnam and Mongolia both registering more than 300 cases each.

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 daysafter 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.