Pertussis cases in Iloilo climb to 30

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The cases of the “highly contagious” pertussis, or whooping cough, in Iloilo have increased to 30, according to the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO).

IPHO data show that the province recorded 14 new cases of the respiratory infection from March 18 to 23. The province currently has a total of nine positive cases, with 21 suspected cases.

The IPHO also reported seven deaths, four of which are laboratory confirmed, two are negative, and one considered a probable case due to the absence of specimens for testing prior to the victim’s death.

Towns with reported cases of pertussis include Santa Barbara, Miagao, San Joaquin, Dumangas, Ajuy, Lambunao, Tubungan, Banate, Cabatuan, Pavia, Anilao, Concepcion, Guimbal, Bingawan, Barotac Viejo, Sara, and the City of Passi.

Santa Barbara logged the highest number of cases with six cases of pertussis in its three barangays. Three of the cases are laboratory-confirmed, while the remaining three yielded negative results.

Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon, head of the IPHO, said there is already a standby and a sufficient stock of pentavalent vaccines available for Santa Barbara, hinting at a potential outbreak declaration by the local government due to positive cases in three barangays.

“We have 14,000 pentavalent vaccines available in our vaccine room, and our stock is also adequate for Santa Barbara in case it will declare a municipal-wide outbreak since the local government is set to convene tomorrow (April 3),” she said in a press conference on Tuesday.

The IPHO previously said that the provincial government cannot yet declare a province-wide outbreak since the “cases are distributed in towns and isolated in the barangays.”

The health office instead said that the local government with confirmed cases can declare a packet or localized outbreak at the barangay level.

Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. has assured the public that the provincial government is ready to augment the capacity of rural health units and hospitals, emphasizing continued vaccination efforts and medical assistance.

“Based on protocol, we are looking at the clustering of cases for any declaration, but with or without declaration, we continue with our vaccination, and the level of our rural health units, we will continue to help in terms of the medicines,” he said.

Regarding the mandatory use of face masks in public places, Defensor said it is being considered but maintained that the wearing of face masks has become routine due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“I think pertussis is not yet in our minimum health standards, but it can be considered. But then again, why not? Even if we do not have an outbreak like pertussis, the public is still using face masks,” he added.

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