This image depicts a young boy who presented to a clinic suffering from what was diagnosed as pertussis. (Photo from Wikipedia.com)

Health officials have reported four suspected cases of pertussis, also known as “whooping cough,” in Puerto Princesa City and the province of Palawan, prompting them to remind residents to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the contagious respiratory tract infection.

Both the city and the province recorded two suspected cases of pertussis each.

The first suspect in the city was a two-year-old who was recorded last February and is already cured. The second suspect, on the other hand, was diagnosed last week, and the City Health Office (CHO) is still waiting for the confirmatory result of the test from the Regional Institute of Tropical Medicine.

The patient is now isolated and is recovering, according to Dr. Ralph Marco Flores, a rural health physician at the CHO.

Flores pointed out the rise in cases this year, which has exceeded 800 nationwide, a sharp comparison to previous years where numbers remained in the single or double digits. 

“At the start of the year, we saw that there are already 400 case,s which is very alarming considering that we just came from a pandemic,” Flores told media in an online press briefing on Monday, April 8.

“We saw that this increase is not only in the Philippines but there are other countries with increasing number of cases that’s why we also highlighted our surveillance,” he said.

Flores also reminded the public, especially those with children below five years of age who are vulnerable to the disease, to have them vaccinated against the bacteria to prevent further spread.

Other precautionary measures include frequent handwashing, covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, and wearing facemasks when in public places.

Flores likewise stated that they are now conducting a massive information dissemination and vaccination campaign against Pertussis in the city’s 66 barangays.

“We are conducting our bakuna rekorida in every barangay and we have also activated our bakuna champions to help in the information dissemination,” he said.

He explained that pertussis is not a new disease and has been present for quite a while, attributing the rise in cases to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, which led to non-vaccination against the bacteria.

He added that while children below five years old are the most prone to acquire the disease, adults can also have it but are immune and can transmit it to young kids.

Flores stated that in Mimaropa, Oriental Mindoro recorded the highest number of suspected cases, with a total of 54, some of which have been confirmed. This is followed by the recorded suspected cases in Occidental Mindoro, numbering seven, Palawan with two, Puerto Princesa City with two, and Marinduque with one.