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40 dead as pertussis cases rise

THE Department of Health (DoH) said 28 new pertussis cases were reported from March 10-16, bringing the total to 568 since January.

Of the number, 40 deaths have been reported nationwide, the department said.

The new number of cases nationwide is 25.38 percent higher than the 453 from the previous 10 weeks. This number is also more than 20 times last year's 26 cases.

The regions with the most number of case increases so far are Calabarzon (Calamba, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Metro Manila, Western Visayas, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), and Central Visayas.

Quezon City and Pasig City in Metro Manila and Iloilo City in the central Philippines have declared a pertussis outbreak.

Of the total pertussis cases recorded, at least six out of 10 were infants below six months of age, while three out of four of these infants were either unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination history.

Of the cases, regardless of age, close to seven out of 10 were either unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination history.


«The medical field has known pertussis for a long time now. We have antibiotics that can treat it. Vaccines are safe and effective against whooping cough. DoH is also redistributing on-hand doses where they are needed the most. In consultation with President Marcos, I have already ordered to fast-track the arrival of 3 million more doses. Please be assured while also being alert. We can fight this,» Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said.

Health experts say pertussis starts as a mild cough and cold that lasts about two weeks, followed by paroxysms or fits of coughing, which last up to six weeks.

There is a characteristic «whooping» or high-pitched sound between coughs, especially when inhaling. There can also be vomiting immediately after coughing and low-grade fever. Infants may not present with a cough; instead, they may turn cyanotic or bluish when coughing.

Compared to cough found in other diseases, the distinct «whoop» or high-pitched sound of pertussis is unique. Bronchial asthma may also have a similar sound, but only during asthma attacks and often without fever or other symptoms.


Pertussis is caused by