Rising pertussis cases prompt health alert

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY – The governments of Negros Occidental province and Bacolod City are alerting residents to a spike in cases of Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez jointly signed an advisory urging the public to recognize the uptick in both confirmed and probable Pertussis infections in the region.

Pertussis is an extremely contagious bacterial infection characterized by severe coughing fits and is particularly dangerous for children under six months of age.

The health advisory, referencing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Department of Health, warns that up to 90 percent of non-immune individuals within a household may contract the disease through droplet transmission.

The advisory also recommends the creation of expedited processing lanes at health facilities for respiratory and flu-like symptoms, aiming to improve patient flow and reduce transmission risks.

Recently, the Bacolod City Health Office (CHO) confirmed three out of four suspected Pertussis cases, based on diagnostics from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine as of March 30.

Dr. Girlie Pinongan, Provincial Health Officer, reported an increase in positive cases within the province, with an infant recently diagnosed, bringing the total to two confirmed cases.

As of April 8, there are 23 individuals under suspicion for Pertussis in Negros Occidental. In response, the Bacolod CHO is advocating for the completion of the Pertussis vaccination series in children younger than two years old.

Additionally, efforts are being made to identify and vaccinate those who have not been immunized or have incomplete vaccinations, including the administration of antibiotic prophylaxis to those who have been in contact with confirmed cases.

Pertussis begins with symptoms akin to a common cold, such as a runny nose and mild cough, but later progresses to intense coughing spells that may result in a distinct “whooping” sound, vomiting, and exhaustion.

Health officials strongly advise prompt medical consultation for anyone exhibiting symptoms of Pertussis. The advisory also stresses the importance of immunization and booster shots beyond the National Immunization Program’s targeted age groups, especially for those who have not received the vaccine.

Parents are being encouraged to take advantage of free vaccinations available at health centers.