DOH Balks at Reports Linking US, Philippines Measles Outbreak

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday balked at reports linking the measles outbreak in California to the Philippines, saying that the latter alone could not be faulted.

In a press briefing, acting Health Secretary Janette Garin said the measles genotype B3 found in the California outbreak is the same strain that caused the measles outbreak in the Philippines last year.

Still, this is not enough to assume that the two outbreaks are related, Garin noted.

She maintained that in an outbreak, there are two factors involved: the source and the susceptible community.

She said if outbreaks happened in the United States, it is highly probable that many did not avail of the immunization coverage or that its second dose, given after nine months, was not provided.

The DOH official recalled that it was in the US when misinformation spread, claiming that vaccines could cause autism as its side effect.

“If there are outbreaks in other countries, there might be some lapses on our part because there are still people who did not avail of vaccination. Remember, in the US, many have not been vaccinated, many also did not believe in the importance of second dose and that actually causes the outbreaks,” Garin said.

She said the DOH will be doing “tracing” to determine what really caused the outbreak in California and it will also seek assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to reports, at least 119 people in California have developed measles, which believed began when an infected international traveler visited Disneyland in late December.

The California health department genotyped specimens from 30 patients and found that all were of the same strain of virus that caused an outbreak in the Philippines. The same genotype has been detected in at least 14 countries and six other US states in the past six months.


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