Go urges public to be vigilant amid rising pertussis cases

By Leonel Abasola

March 25, 2024, 7:01 pm Updated on March 25, 2024, 8:03 pm

<p>The pentavalent vaccine that protects against diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza type B and hepatitis B <em>(PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)</em></p>

The pentavalent vaccine that protects against diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza type B and hepatitis B (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – Senator Christopher "Bong" Go on Monday urged the public to be more vigilant amid the rising cases of pertussis, a highly contagious respiratory tract infection commonly known as “whooping cough.”

Go made this call after Health Undersecretary Eric Tayag said in a news forum last Saturday that the Department of Health (DOH) had recorded 453 cases of pertussis, with 35 deaths, as of March 9.

On March 21, the Quezon City government declared a pertussis outbreak after logging 23 cases and fourth deaths while Bacolod City on Monday issued a health alert to prevent the spread of the disease.

“Dapat tayong magkaisa at maging proactive sa pagpapalaganap ng impormasyon at pagtiyak na may sapat na gamot para sa lahat (We must unite and be proactive in the information dissemination and ensure adequate supply of medicines),” Go said in a statement.

He also called on local government units (LGUs) to step up mapping out vaccination and assure the public of the availability of vaccines and post-exposure prophylaxis.

The disease, caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium, spreads via respiratory droplets and may result in serious health issues, such as pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and potentially fatal outcomes.

Infectious diseases expert and president of the Philippine College of Physicians, Dr. Rontgene Solante, echoed the urgency of addressing the outbreak.

He advised vulnerable groups, especially children and the elderly, to wear face masks and get vaccinated against pertussis.

Solante also warned of the potential for the outbreak to spread further, particularly in densely populated areas like Metro Manila.

Tayag said the DOH is procuring at least one million vaccine doses against pertussis.

The regions with the highest number of cases are Metro Manila, Southern Luzon, and Central Visayas.

Tayag urged parents, especially mothers, to have their young children vaccinated against the disease.

Go advocated for long-term strategies to enhance the country's preparedness and response to infectious diseases.

These include improving healthcare infrastructure, increasing public awareness campaigns on vaccination, and strengthening collaboration between government agencies, healthcare providers, and communities.

On Monday, the Taguig City government said it has logged eight pertussis cases.

In a statement, it said all patients already underwent treatment and have recovered from the illness.

“Pinaaalahanan ang mga taong may sintomas ng pertussis na mag-isolate at magsuot ng face mask upang hindi makahawa. Handa ang Lungsod Taguig na tugunan ang paglaganap ng pertussis. May sapat na kakayahan, gamot, at kagamitan ang ating mga health personnel, health centers, at ospital upang gamutin ang mga magkakasakit ng Pertussis (Those who have pertussis symptoms are advised to isolate and wear face masks. The city of Taguig has adequate capability, medicines and equipment for its personnel, health centers and hospitals to treat pertussis patients)," the city government added.

Those who would need assistance may call the City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CEDSU) -- 0919-079-9193 and 0915-164-2742, or the Taguig Emergency Command Center (ECC) at the phone number (02) 8789-3200.

Pertussis is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, resulting in a highly contagious respiratory infection. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)