No outbreak of diphtheria, but “unacceptable” fatalities – official of DOH

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An official health department allayed concerns of a diphtheria epidemic following last week’s death of a Grade 4 student in Manila and the emergence of the illness in some areas of the nation.

Calibo stated that there is no outbreak for this and the amount of reported instances of diphtheria is “comparatively falling within the normal range” tracked annually by the health department.

The DOH tracked 167 instances of diphtheria nationwide from 1 January to 7 September this year, 40 of which resulted in fatalities.

The organization tracked 122 instances of diphtheria and 30 fatalities due to the illness in the same period last year.

183 instances of diphtheria and 38 fatalities were recorded nationwide for full-year 2018—three instances below the reported 186 in 2017.

Of the instances of diphtheria recorded in 2018.

Diphtheria is an infectious disease triggered by the Corynebacterium diphtheria bacteria that impacts the throat and the upper airways. Symptoms initially include sore throat, low fever, and swollen neck glands.

Calibo said severe cases of diphtheria can lead to death due to “breathing compromise,” especially among infants. The bacteria produce a “pseudomembrane” or membrane of dead tissue buildup over the throat and tonsils. This can block the passage of the neck and air, trigger breathing problems, and can eventually lead to death if not handled immediately.

Calibo recommended the immediate treatment of any manifestation of diphtheria symptoms.

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