By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Philippines health officials are urging parents to ensure that their children receive all the necessary vaccinations on a timely basis. This call comes after the DOH reported an increase in diphtheria this year to date.


From January 2019 – September 2019, there have been 167 cases and 40 deaths compared to 122 cases and 30 deaths cases in the same period in 2018. The reasons for the trend are being investigated.

Most recently, local media reported a suspected diphtheria fatality of a 10-year-old child at the Jacinto Zamora Elementary School in Manila.

Aside from heightened immunization, the anti-toxin for diphtheria is available in the country, and antibiotics for diphtheria, namely penicillin, erythromycin, clarithromycin, and azithromycin, are locally and commercially available.

In addition to diphtheria, a vaccine-preventable disease, others like measles and polio prompted outbreak declarations.

Now more than ever, the importance of protecting our infants and children from vaccine preventable diseases remains paramount. With our campaign, Back to bakUna, Una sa Lahat ang Bakuna,  DOH  calls 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.

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Diphtheria is an acute bacterial infection of respiratory system which can cause mild to severe illness. Symptoms, develop 2 – 5 days after infection, include fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands in the neck. Severe illness presents with swollen neck and thick gray or white patch of dead tissue in the throat and tonsils caused by the bacterial toxin.

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Complications are blocking of the airway and absorption of the toxin into the blood stream that may cause damage to the heart, kidneys and peripheral nerves and thus can lead to death. The severely ill patient must visit a hospital for a special medical care immediately to save life.

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Diphtheria is spread from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets, from coughing, sneezing and close contact. A person can also get infected by contacting with shared utensils contaminated with the bacteria. Some mild cases can transmit the bacteria to people around them. Recovered patients might not develop immunity against the disease.

The best way to prevent diphtheria is to get vaccinated.