Iloilo City announces citywide pertussis outbreak

The Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council meet Monday to discuss the pertussis or whooping cough outbreak in the city. (Iloilo City Government photo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Iloilo City government, responding to a recent case of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has declared an outbreak across the entire city.

This decision was made by the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) on Monday, following an initial recommendation limited to the Jaro and Molo districts.

The CDRRMC approved two resolutions pertaining to pertussis, the outbreak declaration, and recommendation to the Sangguniang Panglungsod a state of calamity.

The expansion to a citywide alert was prompted by a case in a 1-month-old infant from San Jose, Arevalo.

Current figures from the City Health Office (CHO) show a total of 15 cases (7 confirmed and 8 suspect), marking a significant increase from the previous year with 2 cases only.

Among these cases, three children have been fully  vaccinated have been vaccinated (1 fully-immunized and 2 with only 1 dose of Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus or DPT) while 4 are unvaccinated.

Assistant City Health Officer Roland Jay Fortuna outlined the response to the outbreak, which includes raising awareness, encouraging community participation, conducting surveillance, ramping up immunization efforts, ensuring proper treatment, and securing necessary medical supplies.

Vaccines, supplied by the Department of Health, are presently reserved for children’s primary immunization schedules at health centers.

The City Council is anticipated to ratify during its meeting today, the CDRRMC’s state of calamity declaration and approve a ₱16 million fund for managing the outbreak.

The allocation will finance the following treatment responses, among other measures:

  • Antibiotics for consumption for during the first one to two weeks before coughing paroxysms occur to reduce severity of symptoms;
  • Post-exposure prophylaxis to be recommended for all asymptomatic close contacts within 21 days of onset of symptoms; and
  • Post-exposure vaccination for unimmunized and incompletely immunized children less than 10 years old, children above 10 years old who have not received pertussis vaccine in the last 5 years, and pregnant women in their 3rd trimester.

Mayor Jerry Treñas has disclosed plans for training personnel at the city’s molecular lab for pertussis testing to facilitate faster diagnosis, as samples are currently sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City.

He has also dismissed the notion of imposing isolation measures similar to those during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing the current case data does not warrant such action.