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Whooping cough or pertussis outbreak declared in Quezon City


Quezon City declared Thursday an outbreak of whooping cough or pertussis  following an increase in the cases of the contagious respiratory infection.

“Idineklara ngayong araw ni Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte ang 'pertussis outbreak' sa buong lungsod Quezon,” the local government unit said in a statement.

(Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte declared today a 'pertussis outbreak' in the entire city.)

In a press conference, Mayor Joy Belmonte said 23 cases of pertussis have been reported in the city as of March 20.

Four babies already died due to the infection.

“As of March 20 this year, we already recorded 23 cases of pertussis. What is more heartbreaking is this acute infectious disease has claimed the lives of four babies,” she said.

Belmonte said there was no case of pertussis in Quezon City from January to March last year. For the entire 2023, 27 cases were reported with three fatalities.

Pertussis is a contagious disease in lungs caused by a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, the Quezon City government said citing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

All people may develop the disease but the most vulnerable are children aged five and below, especially those who have yet to be vaccinated and with weak resistance.

The disease may be passed on when an infected person sneezes or coughs and transfers the bacteria to other people. It also causes influenza-like symptoms of mild fever, colds, and coughs seven to 10 days after exposure. This cough typically develops into a characteristic hacking cough. 

Nationwide, a total of 453 Filipinos were infected by pertussis within just the first 10 weeks of 2024, data by the Department of Health (DOH) showed Thursday.

During the same period in 2023, only 23 pertussis cases were reported in the country. In 2022, there were only two cases logged during the first ten weeks. 

The DOH attributed the increase in cases to the disruptions in routine immunization at primary care centers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The agency thus urged the public to catch up on immunization for vaccine preventable diseases such as pertussis and measles. 

Measles

A total of 569 measles and rubella cases were recorded in the country as of February 24.

The DOH said all regions, except for Bicol and Central Visayas, reported increasing measles cases in the past month. 

“163 new cases were reported between February 11 to 24, which is 3% higher compared to 2 weeks prior (159 cases). Epidemiologic profile shows that those under five years of age and who are unvaccinated are the most affected,” it said. 

Measles is another highly contagious disease, which spreads from infected individuals through the air, especially through coughing or sneezing. It affects all age groups, but is more common in children. 

Its symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, and a body rash. 

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said that the Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC) is supervising on-the-ground response activities to contain the measles cases. 

“Code Blue has been practiced in the DOH Central Office since March 20, which signals intensified activities to mitigate the spread of the virus through vaccination, micronutrient supplementation, community engagement, and risk communication,” Herbosa said in a statement.

The DOH is aiming to vaccinate at least 90% of the high-risk population, especially children aged 6 months to 10 years, to control measles in the country. 

Herboss reminded the public to get their pentavalent Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus, Hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenza type B (DPT-HepB-HiB) and Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccines, which are available for free at local health centers.

He also advised people to practice the same respiratory precautions learned from the pandemic, such as the voluntary use of a face mask, staying at home when sick, cleaning hands often, and choosing areas with good airflow, to help protect themselves against pertussis, measles, and other respiratory infections.

—AOL/ VAL, GMA Integrated News

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