Pertussis Outbreak in Quezon City: DOH Urges Vigilance and Vaccination

Amid reports of a pertussis or “whooping cough” outbreak in Quezon City and neighboring regions, the Department of Health (DOH) stresses the critical importance of understanding the infection and taking preventive measures to halt its spread. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection. The DOH outlined respiratory hygiene practices such as cough etiquette, hand hygiene, staying home when ill and wearing masks to mitigate transmission.

Pertussis spreads easily from person to person with an infected individual capable of passing the illness to up to 18 others irrespective of age, according to the DOH. The health agency underscored that pertussis can lead to severe complications, particularly in infants.

Symptoms of Pertussis

Pertussis typically begins with mild cold-like symptoms such as fever, nasal congestion and coughing which manifest seven to 10 days post-exposure. As the infection progresses, it presents as a distinctive hacking cough, often accompanied by a high-pitched, choking breathing sound after coughing. Children with pertussis may also exhibit apnea (breathing pauses), breathing difficulties and vomiting.

Treatment for Pertussis

While antibiotics can treat pertussis, vaccination remains the most effective preventive measure. The DOH advised individuals experiencing severe coughing, bluish discoloration or breathing difficulties to seek immediate medical consultation at the nearest health center. Timely medical attention is crucial for symptom management and complication prevention.

Vaccination is key to preventing pertussis. It not only shields individuals from contracting the disease but also aids in reducing its community spread. According to DOH data, the Philippines recorded 453 pertussis cases during the first 10 weeks of 2024, marking a significant increase compared to previous years.

Quezon City Outbreak

Quezon City declared a pertussis outbreak on March 21 after registering 23 cases including four infant fatalities. Pertussis, caused by the Bordetella Pertussis bacterium is highly contagious, spreading through cough or sneeze droplets. Infants are particularly vulnerable to pertussis with symptoms including fever, runny nose, coughing and in severe cases, whooping cough. Vaccination is crucial in preventing pertussis spread.

National Situation of Pertussis

The DOH urged vaccination as pertussis and measles cases surge nationwide. Vaccines against pertussis are available, with distribution adjusted based on regional case counts. Over 400 pertussis cases were reported by the DOH as of March 9, with 35 resulting in fatalities. Cases have been identified in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Western Visayas, prompting Quezon City and possibly Iloilo City to declare outbreaks. Pasig City has recorded the most cases in the capital region, mainly affecting unvaccinated infants. Pertussis, also known as “ubong dalahit” in Filipino poses a significant health risk, underscoring the importance of vaccination and public health measures in controlling its spread.


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