Rotavirus cases rise in Bacolod City

BACOLOD CITY – The City Health Office (CHO) has reported a worrisome increase in rotavirus infections among children under five in Bacolod City, with 101 cases observed in the first three months of the year. Of these, 31 have been confirmed.

The infection rate has risen sharply since the beginning of the year when only 24 suspected cases were noted. The last week of the reporting period, March 17 to 23, alone saw seven new cases.

CHO points to poor sanitation, hygiene, and notably low vaccination coverage as significant risk factors for rotavirus, which is a leading cause of severe diarrhea in young children. “The vaccine is considered the best protection against infection,” stated Dr. Grace Tan, head of the CHO Environment Sanitation Division, emphasizing a challenge as the city has not had access to rotavirus vaccines for several years.

Most affected areas include eight of the city’s 61 villages, with Barangay Banago recording the highest number of cases both this year and last. In 2023, the city saw 312 rotavirus cases, 32 confirmed, and six deaths.

Globally, rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea in infants and children, with the World Health Organization citing approximately 600,000 children’s deaths and over two million hospitalizations each year.

The CHO also noted 36 cases of acute gastroenteritis, treated as cholera suspects, including three fatalities within the same period.

Identified risk factors are the use of contaminated water, inadequate cooking of food, and lack of proper hand hygiene. These figures underscore the importance of improved sanitation practices and the urgent need for vaccine availability.

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