Sep 30, 2019

Amid the scare over polio, fear once again emerged over a disease that came about when a student from Manila died because of it.

Stephanie Tobias, a grade school student from Pandacan, tested positive for Diphtheria to which she immediately died only a few hours after she was diagnosed. 

Diphtheria, a vaccine-preventable disease, is an infection caused by the Corynebacterium diphtheriae which blocks the throat after layers of developed thick covering called “pseudomembrane.” Because of blocked airways, a person will experience difficulty breathing after a few days of being infected leading to their death.

In severe cases, the bacteria may also cause an inflammation of the organs which may affect the nerves, brain, and spinal cord. 

The disease can be transferred through direct physical contact or from the cough and sneezes of infected people.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), there has been an increase in the cases of infection from last year. A total of 167 cases and 40 deaths were recorded from January to September 2019 as compared to last year’s 122 cases and 30 deaths. 

Some of the regions with the most number of cases came from the National Capital Region (NCR), Region IV-A, Region VI, including Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). A majority of the age groups that were infected were from one to four years old and five to nine years old. 

In a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 24 as reported by Inquirer, DOH medical specialist Anthony Calibo said that along with the rise of cases in some areas, there is also an issue on the availability of the diphtheria anti-toxin. 

DOH urges parents to ensure that their children have a complete dose of recommended vaccines during their younger years, to prevent such illnesses from happening.  

[We call] on our local chief executives, local government health workers, other health professionals, and civil society groups to work together to reach every child and ensure that they receive the vaccines on time,” DOH said in a statement. 


Header photo courtesy of Katja Fuhlert on Pixabay 

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TAGS: cough diphtheria Disease DOH sneeze vaccine vaccine-preventable