Panic, false info stoke meningo scare in Antique

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

A 3-year-old boy who allegedly died of meningococcemia caused panic among residents of Antique province Monday.

Misleading information irresponsibly shared through social media and text messages heightened the panic and fear of the Antiqueños on the meningococcemia case.

This should not be the case, health officials emphasized on Wednesday.

According to Regional Epidemiologist Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe of the Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) 6, the public should not panic and spread information from unverified sources.

Dapat indi sila magpanic kag ila lang pamatian ang advisory sang Provincial Health Office (PHO) kag ang iya sang DOH para lang ensakto information nga halin sa authority,” he told Daily Guardian in a phone interview on Wednesday.

A 3-year-old boy died on Monday while on vacation in Barangay Buhang in Hamtic due to suspected meningococcemia, according to the Health, Education and Promotion Section of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Antique.

PHO-Antique said the boy was originally from the town of Dumangas, Iloilo.

Monday’s incident was the fifth suspected meningococcemia case in the province since 2016.

Alonsabe added that the region recorded nine cases of meningococcemia in 2019.

He emphasized that the meningococcemia, which is caused by the Neisseria meningitis bacteria, is not as contagious compared to other diseases although it has high fatality rate.

“It is not as contagious as the public and the media pictured it out,” he said.

Alonsabe explained that meningococcemia will only spread to persons with close contact with the carrier. Children are at high risk because of their low immunity.

“It will only spread if there is very close contact to the point nga pirme kamo imaway, upod kamo kaon and tulog. Ang mga at risk kabataan nga manubo ang immune system,” he added.

Meanwhile, Antique PHO said they have already handed out prophylaxis or preventive treatment to the relatives of the boy and residents of Brgy. Buhang as part of their protocols.

To prevent panic, both the PHO and the regional health department urged the public to be aware of the disease and be mindful of the information being shared on social media.

“They should be aware, tun-an nila maayo ini nga sakit para indi sila magpanic and mati lang sa advise and announcements sang DOH and PHO,” Alonsabe noted.