THE Department of Health advised the public to practice good personal hygiene to prevent meningococcemia but clarified that there is no outbreak of the disease as of the moment as cases are sporadic in nature and are not clustering.
DOH Assistant Secretary of the Public Health Services Team Maria Rosario Vergeire gave the assurance despite two suspected meningococcemia cases from Laguna and Batangas that were confirmed positive for Neisseria meningitidis based on the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine laboratory results.
The DOH is awaiting the laboratory confirmation of five more suspected meningococcemia cases.
From Jan. to Sept. 21, 2019, the DOH Epidemiology Bureau has recorded 169 cases with 88 deaths (case fatality rate of 52%). This is slightly higher than the cases recorded in the same period last year, 162 cases with 78 deaths. Most of the cases (79%) reported were not laboratory confirmed, presenting a gap in confirming the magnitude of the disease.
‘’We are closely coordinating with our regional office for contact tracing. We are providing post-exposure prophylaxis to close contacts of the patients, and are monitoring them for any signs and symptoms of meningococcemia,” Vergeire added.
Meningococcal disease is a rare but very serious illness caused by a bacterial called Neisseria meningitidis. It presents first with nonspecific signs and symptoms such as cough, headache, and sore throat, followed by upper respiratory symptoms, fever, chills, malaise, nausea, vomiting and skin rashes. It can quickly progress and manifest with lethargy, difficulty of breathing, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, seizures, hemorrhagic eruptions, purpuric and petechial skin lesion, and hypotension. In 15% of the cases, death can occur within a few hours.
Because of the severity and rapid progression of the disease, early diagnosis and immediate treatment with antibiotics are vital.
“I advise individuals experiencing symptoms of meningococcemia to go the nearest hospital immediately,” Vergeire stressed.