WHO and UNICEF officials have confirmed the deaths of 261 people from an ongoing measles outbreak in the Philippines as of Saturday, March 2. An estimated 16,349 people have contracted the highly contagious disease. Over half of all cases reported were from children under the age of five. Aside from Manila, the disease is also present in Central Luzon region, Calabarzon region (Luzon), Eastern Visayas region, Western Visayas region, Central Visayas region, and Northern Mindanao region. Further spread of the disease is to be expected in the affected regions over the coming weeks. Health officials warn that the outbreak may continue until at least April.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that typically affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of infected persons. The disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Symptoms of measles are usually a high fever, which begins approximately ten to 12 days after exposure to the virus and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days).
Individuals in or planning travel to the Philippines, particularly Manila, are advised to ensure their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations are up to date and to contact their doctor with any questions or concerns. Anyone experiencing the abovementioned symptoms is urged to seek immediate medical attention.
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