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DOH: Pertussis cases 20 times higher since January

MANILA, Philippines — The number of pertussis cases nationwide has increased 20-fold this year from 2023, according to the Department of Health.

DOH data showed 28 new cases were recorded from March 10 to 16, bringing to 568 the total number of infections, including 40 deaths since January.

“The total number of cases during the same period in 2023 was only 26, making this year’s tally to date more than 20 times from last year,” the DOH said.

Regions with the most number of local government units (LGUs) that logged high number of pertussis cases were Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Central and Western Visayas, Mimaropa and the National Capital Region, which accounted for 58 cases or 27 percent of the total confirmed infections.

Six of 10 cases were infants below six months old. Three of every four of these infants were either unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination history.

Regardless of age, close to seven of every 10 cases reported were either unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination history.

Health officials said from 122 cases recorded between Feb. 4 and 11, the figure increased to 149 between Feb. 18 and 25.

The cases dropped to 73 from March 3 to 10.

The DOH said the declining trend could still change, as there may be late consultations and reports.

Pertussis is a respiratory disease that can be transmitted through coughing or sneezing.

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said antibiotics can treat pertussis and vaccines can help prevent the infection.

Herbosa said the DOH is redistributing vaccines in areas where these are needed most.

The agency is fast-tracking the procurement and arrival of three million doses of anti-pertussis vaccine.

Meanwhile, to prevent the spread of pertussis in Metro Manila, the DOH is working with LGUs in implementing preventive measures.

LGUs have been advised to heighten surveillance and launch intensified routine immunization activities in their jurisdictions.

Health executives on Tuesday met with LGU health officials in Metro Manila to present updates on the number of pertussis cases and discussed appropriate measures to be taken.

They stressed the need for LGUs to help protect the public from the disease.