Mass immunization set across Bulacan amid measles outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   February 13, 2019   •   2664

BULACAN, Philippines – Due to the continuous rise in measles cases, the Bulacan Provincial government together with the Department of Health (DOH) Region 3 will hold a mass immunization in all 596 barangays in the province.

Measles cases across Bulacan have already reached 286 in the month of January alone; a more than 3,000% increase to last year’s seven cases during the same month.

The highest number recorded was in San Jose del Monte with 48; Baliuag with 33; Bocaue with 32; and Marilao with 21.

The infection already killed six infants age five months and below.

The situation prompted the local government unit (LGU) to intensify its Oplan Ligtas Tigdas program which was recently launched in the municipality of Malolos through the collaboration of the DOH Region 3 and the Bulacan Health Office, and the LGU.

All heads of barangays and health workers were directed to make rounds in communities to administer the immunization especially to babies who have no records of vaccination.

“Kailangan po namin ang pakiisa ninyo. (Mag) house to house. Ang target po natin ay ang mga nasa bahay wether they’re kinder,or day care (level) pero 1 month old or 6 months old. Ang kailangan po natin dito ay tulong ng mga kapitan,” appealed Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Sy Alvarado.

In response, heads of barangays vowed to support the program for their respective constituents.

“Pupuntahan namin ang mga bahay-bahay per purok, may mga barangay health workers, volunteers,” assured Barangay Calumpit chairman Eugenio Garsota.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wilbert Ilerya of Pulilan Municipal Health Office suggested a schedule for the immunization program per barangay to avoid further spread of the infection.

He also stressed that once the mass immunization is launched, the local health center should make sure that there is enough supply of vaccines.

 This is a time of outbreak, kailangan may maibibigay na bakuna, para mahinto mo na yung paglaganap nung ng kaso ng measles,” Ilerya said.

The Health Regional Office, meanwhile, assured that there will be enough supply of vaccine for every barangay but in case of shortage, they can always ask for additional supply from the provincial health office.

As of now, wala po tayong kulang sa mga bakuna. Sapat papo ang ating bilang, If ever magkukulang man po we could always request from the
Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)  to give another batch of vaccine from regular vaccination natin,” assured Dr. Shiela Mae Geronimo, DOH-3’s Development Management Officer 4.

Based on DOH-Region 3 records, Pampanga remains the highest in number of measles cases with 652; Bulacan with 560; and Tarlac with 333 cases.

DOH calls on the seven provinces in Region 3 to put up an isolation ward in every district and provincial hospitals to accommodate measles-infected patients.

We are having an outbreak at a regional level and the Bulacan level. We need to have isolation areas of all the hospital that we have whether it is level 1,2,3 hospital,” Geronimo emphasized. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nestor Torres)

Bulacan Congressman Villarica contracts COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   March 27, 2020

Bulacan Fourth District Representative Henry Villarica

MANILA, Philippines – Bulacan Fourth District Representative Henry Villarica has tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), House of Representatives Secretary-General Atty. Jose Luis Montales confirmed Thursday.

Montales said Villarica last reported for work at the House on March 4, and was admitted to the hospital on March 18 for pneumonia.

On March 8, he attended an event hosted by Baliuag, Bulacan Mayor Ferdie Estrella, who was earlier reported to have tested positive for COVID-19.

The secretary-general said Villarica is now in stable condition, while none of his staff have manifested any symptoms.

Montales said the Medical Department of the House of Representatives is now tracing all those who may have had contact with the virus-infected solon.

Villarica is the latest lawmaker to have contracted the viral disease.

ACT-CIS party-list Representative Eric Go Yap earlier tested positive for coronavirus, as well as Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Aquilino Pimentel III, and Sonny Angara.

Aside from Estrella, local officials who got infected with the virus are Rizal Governor Nini Ynares, and Naic, Cavite Mayor Junio Dualan.

The Department of Health on Thursday reported 71 new cases, bringing the total confirmed infections to 707. The number of fatalities also rose to 45 while 28 have recovered. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

ERRATUM:
The House of Representatives issued an erratum on the date of Rep. Villarica’s confinement which was on March 18 instead of March 12 as previously reported. Revision has been made accordingly.

ASF scare vexes pork meat vendors, lechon makers in Bulacan

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2019

BULACAN, Philippines – The pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF) has so far affected five barangays in the municipality of Guiguinto.

These are barangays Tiaong, Kut-Kot, Malis, Tabe and Pritil.

Hog raisers are already complaining over huge loss of income.

Even pork meat vendors and lechon makers in the province are also hurt by the ASF outbreak.

Based on records of the Municipal Veterinary Office, over a hundred pigs have already died in these areas since August 16.

Authorities suspect that the pigs delivered from Rizal may have been the source of the spread of ASF in Guiguinto.

“Dinadala dito. Doon sila humahango (The pigs are brought here from there [Rizal]) ,” said Guiguinto Municipal Veterinary Officer Eduardo Jose.

“Pagdating dyan naunang nagkaroon ng report sa Rodriguez. Nag-suspect ang provincial veterinary office na nadala dito sa Pritil, (The report first surfaced in Rodriguez. The provincial veterinary office suspected that the virus was brought here in Pritil)” Jose said.

Hog raisers are starting to complain over huge loss of income due to ASF outbreak.

“Dito po namin inilibing ang labinlimang baboy na namatay kahapon. Affected po ang Pritil, (This is where we buried 15 pigs that died yesterday. Pritil is also affected),” said hog raiser Sofia Verde.

Verde said she already lost more than 100 pigs including a sow.

Barangay Pritil for now does not accept delivery of pigs from Rizal and Batangas due to ASF outbreak.

Aside from pork meat vendors, lechon makers in Bulacan are also hurt by the outbreak as buyers of the Filipino pork delicacy have become fewer.

“Matumal talaga. Nasasabay pa yung balita na (African Swine Fever) sa baboy, (Sales have been slow, and news about African Swine Fever is making it worse),” noted lechon maker Minda Atim.

Some pork meat vendors whose products were certified by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) said they were not exempted from the impact of ASF scare.

They blame the media for fueling the flames when it comes to ASF.

“Ang nangyari kasi malakas rin ang (impluwensiya) ng media, (The influence of media is strong),” said Lisa Apolinario, a pork meat vendor.

“Napapakita, napapanood na akala nila ganun na lahat ng paninda. Maayos ang paninda namin kasi may certificate naman kami (When people see it on TV they think all pork being sold in the market are affected. Our products are safe because we have certificates),” Apolinario argued.

Meanwhile, some consumers prefer to be safe by buying other sources of protein instead of pork meat.

 “Mga seafood na lang binibili namin and chicken, (We prefer to buy seafood and chicken),” said Paula Angeles.

“Mas maganda mag-ingat na lang po ngayon, (It’s better to be cautious,)” another consumer, Jane Art said.

“Kapag wala na siguro yung case ng swine (fever) saka na lang siguro magbaboy, (When the case of (African) Swine (Fever) is cleared, that’s the time we could buy pork again),” she concluded. – MNP (with reports from Nestor Torres)

DA, BAI confirm ASF outbreak; call on public to help prevent spread of pig disease

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in a press release admitted that the current African Swine Fever (ASF) episodes in Rizal and Bulacan may be considered an outbreak but not yet an epidemic.

The Department assured, however, that the pig virus has already been contained in Barangay Pritil and Guiguinto in Bulacan as well as in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo in Rizal.

The agency, through Secretary William Dar, stressed that the outbreak is not affecting the entire country thus it appeals to the public as well as the media not to ignite fear as unverified and unvalidated reports could create irreversible damage to the country’s hog industry which is also the source of livelihood for millions of Filipinos.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) confirmed that the cases of pig deaths in Rizal and Bulacan have been at outbreak level since August this year.

“Basta na-confirm na ito’y tumaas doon sa normally expected na nagkakasakit at normal na bilang ng namamatay, outbreak na iyon. August po iyon,” Director Ronnie Domingo said in an interview on Monday (September 16) when asked as to when the outbreak started.

(If the confirmed number of pig deaths goes beyond the normal number of expected deaths, that’s outbreak already. That was the case in August.)

The agency, meanwhile, doesn’t want to confirm what the Quezon City government announced regarding ASF-positive pigs amid culling operations in the city.

According to Domingo, they are still conducting laboratory tests on the pig samples including those that floated in a creek in Bagong Silangan as well as those recovered in Marikina River.

The official echoed Secretary Dar’s call on hog raisers to report pigs that had gone sick in order to prevent the spread of the deadly swine virus.

“Sana makalaya tayo kaagad in the shortest possible time (We hope to end this (problem) in the shortest possible time),” Domingo said.

“Pero pagka may nagtatago at ganyan na hindi nakikisama, mae-extend ang control measures na ginagawa (natin) (But if there are some who conceal [their hogs], we need to extend our control measures),” he added. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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