June 17, 2024

■  Jane B. Cadalig 

The outbreaks of pertussis cases in various areas in the country highlighted anew the call for the public to take vaccination seriously.

In the Cordillera, 51 cases of suspected pertussis were recorded by the Department of Health from Jan. 1 to March 30.

The cases were recorded in Baguio City, Benguet, and Kalinga with Baguio having the most number at 32. Benguet with 18 cases while Kalinga has one case.

There were no pertussis cases recorded in the region in the same period last year, based on the DOH Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) report.

DOH-Cordillera RESU Head Victoria Malicdan said most of the cases are infants less than six months old. It recorded one death, a three-month-old infant.

She said laboratory tests showed 38 showed negative while nine were confirmed as pertussis cases. Results of the other four cases are pending.

Of the nine confirmed cases, Malicdan said six are infants from Baguio City aged one to five months old while the three confirmed cases in Benguet are aged four, five months, and 13 years old.

Two of the cases had exposure to family members who had coughs.

The increase in cases in the region started to increase in February and peaked in the last week of March.

As outbreaks of pertussis cases are being reported, the DOH asked parents and guardians to take vaccination seriously to protect the children, who are among the vulnerable age group.

DOH Medical Officer IV Anachris Kilakil said an infant should complete their three doses of the Pentavalent vaccine before they turn a year old for them to be fully immunized from pertussis.

She said children should receive their vaccination completely and on schedule for them to be protected from complications caused by diseases.

Health experts say pertussis starts as a mild cough and cold that lasts about two weeks, followed by fits of coughing which lasts up to six weeks.

Pertussis is caused by bacteria – either Bordetella pertussis, or Bordetella parapertussis, but can be cured by antibiotics.