‘80% CONTROLLED’: Iloilo City nears lifting pertussis calamity status

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Iloilo City Health Office (ICHO) is nearing a recommendation to lift the state of calamity for pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, by the end of May, citing significant control over the disease’s spread.

Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna, assistant department head of the ICHO, revealed on Monday, May 13, that only five probable cases of pertussis have recently been reported, with the latest on May 10 awaiting confirmation from the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.

The most recent pertussis case confirmed by the RITM and ICHO was on April 17, involving a 1-year, 8-month-old infant who was fully immunized.

ICHO head Dr. Annabel Tang shared that the latest confirmed case had a mild reaction due to prior immunization.

“[Their body] had a good response. The child merely coughed and they were brought to the hospital because of [standard operating procedure], and blood sample was taken from them. But after a day or two, they no longer had fever,” Tang said.

She assessed the current situation as 80 percent controlled.

“Compared to the first [incidences], we have had 2-week intervals, but now we are more or less confident because there are longer [infection] intervals, and those who are [probable or confirmed] are showing better resistance due to the outbreak response and catching-up of those who haven’t completed their vaccinations,” she said.

Tang indicated that if conditions remain stable, she will propose to Mayor Jerry Treñas that the state of calamity be lifted as soon as possible.

The ICHO is also enhancing its testing capabilities, training staff at the city’s molecular laboratories in Molo district with assistance from RITM, as current pertussis testing timelines extend to 2-3 weeks.

Fortuna highlighted the ongoing outbreak response immunization (ORI) efforts, targeting children aged 0 to 12 months.

In April, 878 children received doses of the diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) vaccines, with another 522 in May, totaling 1,400 children receiving their first, second, or third doses.

The overall ORI, which includes those needing boosters or who missed initial vaccinations, has seen 8,689 doses administered.

The program also targeted pregnant women in their third trimester, providing 741 doses, reaching 75 percent of the target population for this demographic.

Despite limited vaccine supplies, priority continues for children who have been in close contact with probable or confirmed cases or reside in high-risk areas.

Additional pentavalent vaccines according to the ICHO chief will be arriving in July 2024.

Tang said that they have also reached out to doctors from the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society to be able to administer vaccines to their patients.

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