Health News: DOH encourages public to practice good hygiene to prevent meningococcemia
The Department of Health (DOH) is reminding the public to take precautions against meningococcemia after recording four deaths in Batangas province recently – three of which were children.
According to ABS-CBN News, the four patients died under observation in the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila between September 22 and October 4.
In a press release, the health department said that they have recorded 169 cases with 88 deaths from January to September 21 this year, which is slightly higher than last year’s 162 cases with 78 deaths. Up to 79% of the cases reported, however, were not laboratory confirmed, making it hard to confirm the magnitude of the disease.
DOH Assistant Secretary of the Public Health Services Team Maria Rosario Vergeire pointed out that because cases are sporadic and not clustering, there is no outbreak of meningococcemia in the country.
Meningococcemia is a rare but fatal disease caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. It reportedly first presents itself with nonspecific symptoms such as cough, headache, and sore throat, which are then followed by upper respiratory symptoms, fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting, among other signs. As it progresses, patients can experience lethargy, seizures, neck stiffness, difficulty in breathing, hypotension and other serious conditions.
The disease can progress rapidly – so rapid that in over 15% of cases, death can occur in a matter of hours.
That’s why the DOH advises the public to immediately go to the hospital and get antibiotic treatment when experiencing symptoms.
Meningococcal disease is transmitted through the exchange secretions from the nose and throat, like coughing, kissing, and sharing of utensils. But it’s relatively less contagious when compared to the flu or common colds as the bacteria that causes the disease cannot survive without a human host.
Children are said to be more vulnerable to the disease because they have a low resistance against bacteria.
Vergeire stresses that the disease is preventable by practicing good hygiene. “I urge the public to practice good personal hygiene such as regular handwashing, and covering of mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of this disease,” the health official said.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, suggests vaccinations as vaccines for the disease have been around for decades and have been proven to be safe and effective.
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