Despite the rising cases of meningococcemia in the country, the Department of Health clarifies there is no outbreak for the disease just yet. However, there are are already 169 cases of meningococcemia so far this year, a four-percent increase from the 162 cases recorded in the same period in 2018. There have also been six confirmed deaths due to the infection, including a 4-month-old baby from Batangas and a 3-year-old child from Naga City.
Four of the deaths came from Batangas province, including two from Nasugbu, one from Lian, and one from Tanauan, CNN Philippines reports.
According to Dr. Eduardo Janairo, DOH-CALABARZON regional director, Batangas province is endemic for meningococcemia. This means that the bacterial infection is constantly present in a population within a particular region.
Meningococcemia is an infection in the bloodstream caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. It can be transmitted from person-to-person through close and lengthy contact, such as coughing and sneezing.
If left untreated, the bacteria can kill in a matter of hours. The baby, who was admitted to the Ospital ng Nasugbu on October 3 and transferred to the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila on the same day, succumbed to the disease and passed away on October 4.
In an interview with GMA News, DOH Epidemiology Bureau OIC Dr. Ferchito Avelino said officials immediately contacted all the people meningococcemia victims had close contact with and administered preventive or antibiotic prophylaxis to help curb the virus.
“But then again, the fact remains na talagang may mamamatay pa rin. So, importante talaga ‘yung maagap na pagpapatingin sa ating mga health center at ‘yung preventive measures,” Avelino said.
Iloilo Rep. Janette Loreto-Garin, a medical doctor who is also a former Health Secretary, advised the public in a statement to immediately go to the doctor if they have symptoms of meningococcal disease, especially “if there is persistent drowsiness, irritability, fever, children not feeding normally or if symptoms have come on or just worsened very quickly.”
The Neisseria meningitidis can also cause life-threatening meningitis. Click here to read how a sudden fever led to the disease in a 6-week-old baby.