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SPMC logs 10 Pertussis cases for 2024 Q1

THE SOUTHERN Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) recorded 10 cases and one death from pertussis (whooping cough), mostly in Davao City, for the first quarter of 2024.

Dr. Ma. Delta Aguilar, SPMC Pediatrics-Infectious Disease Cluster for Reemerging Disease chief, said the fatality was an infant less than a month old who died at the government hospital.

Aguilar said infants are more susceptible to pertussis when the mother never had any vaccination during pregnancy, as immunization of the child starts at six weeks old.

Pregnant women, she said should receive a dose of tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (TDAP) vaccine, between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy to protect their babies.

Aguilar said the number is not as alarming as last year’s data. However, the public is told not to be complacent as cases could increase over time. She added that the cases reported are mostly from Davao City. 

“I would not say this is alarming, because this is a vaccine-preventable disease, so supposedly should not be happening, but we are in caution and it’s not a good sign,” she said during the Habi at Kape media forum on April 3.

Last year, the government recorded 67 cases with five mortalities in the region.

Several local government units have declared pertussis outbreaks including Quezon City, Manila on March 21, Iloilo City on March 25, while the entire Cavite province was declared under a state of calamity on March 27.  

“When an outbreak is declared, since it is vaccine-preventable, 1-2 cases in a span of time should tell you it alarming, I think the 10 cases for the first quarter is already an outbreak,” Aguilar said.

However, the official clarified that they should also consider the ratio of cases to the population before declaring an outbreak.

Groups susceptible to contracting the disease include the unvaccinated, those with incomplete vaccination, and the least immunized such as the young population- babies and infants, elderly population, and pregnant women.

Aguilar added that the symptoms in adults can be mild, but are serious to the infant’s incomplete of vaccination.

Pertussis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through droplets from coughing and sneezing of an infected.

It takes about 7-10 days before symptoms start to appear but it ranges up to 21 days. In infants, symptoms include fever (lasting for two weeks), apnea (pauses in breathing), and cyanosis (mouth turning blue or purple).

Aguilar said serious cases of pertussis in infants include rib fractures and hernia from the series of coughing fits that continue for weeks. 

Pentavalent vaccines can be accessed for free at health centers. Children aged 1-6 years old may get a booster dose. Adults have to receive a booster dose of TDAP every 10 years thereafter.

The official advised wearing masks to those who have coughs and other respiratory diseases. 


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