Capitol: No reason yet to declare province-wide outbreak on pertussis

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Despite the nine confirmed cases and three deaths from pertussis, or whooping cough, the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) said they cannot yet declare a province-wide outbreak of the “highly contagious” respiratory infection.

“Our cases are distributed in towns and isolated in the barangays. We cannot declare a state of calamity unless there are towns that would declare an outbreak […] So far, there is no reason yet for us to declare a province-wide outbreak of pertussis,” said Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon, head of the IPHO.

Colmenares-Quiñon said this after the civil defense cluster convened on Tuesday to determine if there is an epidemic or outbreak in the province.

The province currently has nine positive cases out of 16 reported cases.

Two cases from the towns of Concepcion and Badiangan already yielded negative laboratory results for the infection, according to IPHO.

The town of Santa Barbara recorded the highest number of confirmed cases, with two cases reported from the Brgy. Inangayan and Miraga-Guibuangan.

“Santa Barbara has two barangays experiencing an outbreak of cases, but there has been no declaration yet from the local government unit,” said Colmenares-Quiñon.

She noted that for a town to declare a state of calamity, there needs to be at least three barangays with positive cases of the infection.

Meanwhile, the three pertussis-related fatalities, mostly infants, are from the towns of Dumangas, San Joaquin, and Miagao.

The IPHO head, however, clarified that the fatality from Miagao town is a probable pertussis case, as the patient exhibited symptoms of the infection but no laboratory tests were administered before the patient died.

Colmenares-Quiñon said it was discussed during the emergency meeting that the provincial government would support the needs of affected local government units in controlling the spread of the infection using the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) fund of the IPHO.

As there is no reason yet for the declaration of a province-wide outbreak of pertussis, the IPHO head stressed that local government units with confirmed cases can declare a packet or localized outbreak at the barangay level.

IPHO further assured the public that there are enough vials of pentavalent vaccines for routine immunization.

“Our vaccines are adequate for that,” Colmenares-Quiñon said.

The pentavalent vaccine is a 5-in-1 combination vaccine that can protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type B.

Preliminary investigation by IPHO revealed that most of the cases occurred in infants aged 28 days to 4 months who had not received a vaccination for pertussis.

Most cases experienced at least two weeks of cough and paroxysm.

The number of confirmed cases of pertussis in the province reached the alert threshold and epidemic threshold on March 15, according to the IPHO.

An alert threshold means that the level of occurrence of the disease serves as an early warning for epidemics while an epidemic threshold means that the level of occurrence of the disease already requires an urgent response.

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