Pertussis Outbreak in the Philippines – 28 New Cases and 4 Deaths Reported

Pertussis Outbreak

The Department of Health (DOH) in the Philippines is grappling with a significant increase in pertussis, or whooping cough, cases across the country. From January 1 to March 16, 2024, the DOH recorded 568 cases, a stark increase from the 26 cases reported during the same period in 2023.

The recent data reveals a worrying trend. Of the total pertussis cases recorded, 62.7% were infants below six months of age, and 75.8% of these infants were either unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination history. This trend extends to all age groups, with 67.6% of all cases being either unvaccinated or having an unknown vaccination history.

Regions such as CALABARZON, Metro Manila, Western Visayas, MIMAROPA, and Central Visayas have seen the most significant increases in cases. Metro Manila alone accounted for 27% of the total confirmed cases.

In response to the outbreak, the DOH has been cautious in interpreting the trend, acknowledging that the number of cases may still change due to late consultations and reports. The department has emphasized the importance of early treatment with antibiotics, which are effective against pertussis.

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa remains optimistic, stating that the medical field has known pertussis for a long time and that antibiotics can treat it. He also highlighted the safety and effectiveness of vaccines against whooping cough.

The DOH, health centers, and citizens are “catching up with vaccination”. Currently, 64,400 vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide, and the Health Department expects 3 million more pentavalent doses to arrive soon.

Despite the pertussis outbreaks in some areas, the DOH is not keen on reimposing mandatory wearing of face masks or restrictions in gatherings during the Holy Week, Ramadan, and long weekend. Instead, the focus is on voluntary public adherence to health measures.

The pertussis outbreak in the Philippines underscores the importance of vaccination and early treatment. As the country races against time to curb the spread of the disease, the collective effort of the DOH, health centers, and the public will be crucial in overcoming this health crisis.

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20 days ago

[…] Dr. Janette Garin expressed concern about the current outbreak of pertussis cases in the Philippines and urged the government to catch up on its vaccination drives. However, she expressed uncertainty about whether the government has enough vaccines in stock. She attributed the situation to poor planning by previous heads of the Department of Health. […]

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