The number of suspected and confirmed measles cases in the Philippines has grown to 561 (93 confirmed) for the first two months of the year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region.
This is up from 201 cases reported one month prior. In addition, the first measles fatality has been reported on the archipelago.
The good news is this number is much lower than the same period in 2014 when there more than 7,000 confirmed measles cases reported. In all of 2014, the Philippines saw 58,010 suspected cases of measles, including 21,420 confirmed cases and 110 deaths.
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. Initial symptoms 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.