Manila, Philippines – Despite the occurring cases, a health official clarified that diphtheria is not a threatening trend in the country.
In a press conference in Pasay City on Wednesday (September 25), the Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo presented the current diphtheria cases in several regions in the country.
“We’re getting around 150 cases a year, pero hindi naman significant. 2018 is actually less compared to 2017,” Domingo explained.
However, he highly noted the need for vaccination as the best method to prevent spreading the disease.
“Ang important kasi sa diphtheria ay makontrol mo agad basta nagkaroon ng isang kaso to make sure it doesn’t spread, giving antibiotics to all the contacts. So far we haven’t had outbreaks with continuous spread or transmission,” he continued.
According to the DOH-Epidemiology Bureau data, 2018 had 183 diphtheria cases, of which 55 confirmed cases and 13 led to deaths.
What is Diphtheria?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. It causes a thick covering in the back of the throat leading to difficulty in breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and eventually death.
Common symptoms include fever, cough, colds, swelling of the throat, and difficulty in breathing and eating.
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Suspected fatality in Manila
On September 25, a school official said that an elementary student in Manila died due to a suspected diphtheria case. But the DOH is still investigating and is yet to confirm.
A Grade 4 student from Jacinto Zamora Elementary School started having fever since September 13 and later had rashed and mouth sores. A week later, hours after her clinically diagnosis diphtheria she passed away.
“We’re still confirming if the Manila student is a case of diphtheria. Kung positive talaga siya sa diphtheria lahat ng possible contacts must be given antibiotics,” Domingo said.
Moreover, he also noted the availability of vaccines for diphtheria and other diseases, distributed by the Family Health Office nationwide.