Measles Outbreak in the Philippines

For Immediate Release

February 14, 2018; 4:40pm

DPHSS Release No. 2018-018

Measles Outbreak in the Philippines

The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) received notification regarding the ongoing outbreak of measles in the Philippines.  As of January 29, 2018, the Department of Health, Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit in the Philippines reported that from January 1, 2017 to January 19, 2018, there were 317 suspected cases of measles.  It is alarming to note that 14 cases  were recorded as suspected measles-related deaths (13 from Davao City and one from Davao del Norte in the southern Philippines); confirmation is pending on whether the cause of death is directly related to the complications of measles or coincidental.  Most of the cases reported last year spiked during the months of November and December 2017; in 2018, 49 suspect cases of measles were reported during the period of January 1 – 19.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It is primarily spread by person to person contact via large respiratory droplets.  Symptoms are characterized by a generalized rash lasting 3 days or longer, with fever (101⁰ F or higher) and cough, or coryza (runny nose), or conjunctivitis (red eyes).

The DPHSS recommends that persons traveling to the Philippines ensure they are vaccinated for measles (given in combination with the measles and mumps vaccines) 2 weeks before departing.  With the recent holidays and due to frequent travel of residents between Guam and the Philippines, it is possible that the disease may be brought here.  The DPHSS also encourages parents to review their children’s shot record to ensure they have received the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine.

The current recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are:

  • Children should receive two doses of MMR vaccine, with the first dose given at 1 year of age or older and dose #2 given between 4-6 years of age.
  • All persons born during or after 1957 should have documentation of at least one dose of MMR vaccine given on or after the first birthday.

All health care providers on Guam are urged to be on alert for possible cases of measles and to promptly report suspect cases to the Immunization Program, Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, at 735-7143/7148 or 735-7135.  Furthermore, all health care providers are urged to review and update the immunization status of all patients they see.  If vaccination is contraindicated because of illness, a follow-up appointment should be scheduled to update vaccination as soon as the illness is over.

For more information, please call the DPHSS Immunization Program at 735-7143.