Measles is highly infectious and deadly, but preventable with vaccination

February 7, 2019 - 2:15 PM
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Vaccine Interaksyon
The CDC said that the measles, mumps and rubella or MMR vaccine is still the best preventive measure against these infectious diseases. (Philstar.com/File photo)

The Department of Health declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila following the vaccine scare that prevented many Filipino patients from getting their children vaccinated following the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy.

The health agency previously blamed Atty. Persida Acosta of the Public Attorney’s Office of perpetuating the vaccination scare among Filipinos after she alleged that Dengvaxia the deaths of at least 105 individuals without scientific backup.

Filipinos also took to social media to express their ire against the lawyer.

Dengvaxia is an anti-dengue vaccine developed by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur. It was used in the immunization program implemented by former President Benigno Aquino III back in 2016.

After reports that several patients died because of the vaccine, Acosta insisted that officials of the health agency and Sanofi be held accountable for the crisis.

Acosta had her own forensics conduct their own autopsies. They later claimed that their findings revealed the deaths to be directly caused by the vaccine.

Health experts have countered this, saying that some of the affected children were already seriously ill prior to the immunization.

Measles 101

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is a highly contagious disease that can easily spread through coughing and sneezing.

Its symptoms usually start with cough, high fever, red, water eyes and runny nose. Three to four days later, rashes or flat red spots appear on the face, the hairline and then throughout the other parts of the body.

The World Health Organization also cited other risk factors for severe cases of measles.

“Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV/AIDS or other diseases,” the WHO said.

Outbreaks of this disease mostly occur where immunization level is low, the CDC emphasized.

It said that the measles, mumps and rubella or MMR vaccine remains to be the best preventive measure against these infectious illnesses.

“The vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination,” it said.

In the Philippines, Filipinos can avail of free immunization programs being distributed by the DOH across the country.

Aside from the Philippines, there’s also currently an ongoing measles outbreak in the United States, such as in the states of Washington, Texas and New York, since 2017.

From January 1 to February 6, cases of patients with measles reportedly increased by 550 percent.

Data from the DOH showed there are 169 more cases compared to 26 reported cases during the same period in 2018.

Moreover, there have been 55 deaths of children mostly aged three months to four years old at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, a known facility for infectious and communicable diseases such as measles.

Twitter user @maxerdompyy shared that ninety-five percent of the patients at the San Lazaro Hospital during her shift there were children with measles.