Suspected diphtheria case reported in Bataan

DIPHTHERIA CASE? Dinalupihan Vice Mayor Renato Matawaran (left), Municipal Health Officer Dr. Johna Mandac and Municipal Administrator Rolando Rojas (not shown in photo) discuss the suspected diphtheria case involving a four-year-old boy in the town on Tuesday (Oct. 1, 2019). The boy was brought to the Dinalupihan District Hospital but was immediately transferred to San Lazaro Hospital in Manila. (Photo by Ernie Esconde)

DINALUPIHAN, Bataan — Health authorities on Tuesday reported the hospitalization of a four-year-old boy from this town due to suspected diphtheria, pending laboratory results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

Vice Mayor Renato Matawaran here said the patient was brought to the Dinalupihan District Hospital last Saturday but was immediately transferred to the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

Matawaran, a physician, said the boy complained of sore throat, cough, fever and weak body and the initial diagnosis of the attending doctor at the Dinalupihan hospital was acute pharyngitis, with diphtheria ruled out.

But the doctor later suspected that the boy was suffering from diphtheria after finding exudates in his throat and tonsils and learning that the boy’s vaccination record was not clear, the vice mayor said.

“The conclusion of the doctor is that since the boy is a vaccine defaulter, it is diphtheria because he was only given two injections for diphtheria. It was managed initially and immediately referred to San Lazaro Hospital,” Matawaran said.

He said that at San Lazaro Hospital, the doctors gave the same impression, so they gave the boy management on diphtheria and got samples for culture and sensitivity for transmittal to RITM.

Meanwhile, Matawaran said they undertook various protective measures so that infection would not spread in case the patient was afflicted with a communicable disease.

He said the first thing that they did was to identify the patient’s primary contacts, including the immediate members of his family, day care students he mingled with and personnel of the Dinalupihan District Hospital.

“Binigyan namin sila ng prophylactic treatment of erythromycin na recommended ng DOH. Ini-quarantine namin sila for two days at minonitor ang occurrence ng symptoms na related sa diphtheria and other respiratory symptoms. Nilinis namin ang mga facilities na napuntahan ng bata to prevent an outbreak just in case na diphtheria nga ito (We gave them prophylactic treatment of erythromycin which was recommended by DOH. We quarantined them for two days and are being monitored with the occurrence of symptoms related to diphtheria and other respiratory symptoms. We cleaned the facilities where the boy came from to prevent an outbreak just in case that it is indeed diphtheria),” Matawaran said.

The vice mayor said there was no need for massive vaccination because the children in Dinalupihan have high vaccination rate.

“Gumawa rin kami ng Rapid Coverage Assessment (RCA). Nag house-to-house ang mga health personnel at in-identify nila ang mga bata na completely o incompletely vaccinated at nagbigay kami ng booster dose ng vaccine (We conducted Rapid Coverage Assessment (RCA). The health personnel went house-to-house and they identified those children that are completely and incompletely vaccinated and those defaulters. To the defaulters, we gave vaccine booster right there and then),” he said.

When asked what he would advise parents, Matawaran said, “pagme-maintain ng cleanliness and hygiene. Importante yan. Of course, kung may nararamdaman ka, ang bata ng symptoms, antimano dalhin sa ating mga rural health units para matingnan ng mga doktor (It is important to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Of course, if the child has the symptoms, he/she must be brought to our rural health units immediately).”

Dr. Lahaina Bulaong, rural health physician, said she had talked with the parents of the patient, who said that the boy was in good condition.

“The working diagnosis at the San Lazaro Hospital is pneumonia. To rule out diphtheria, the final diagnosis which polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and culture and sensitivity is still being awaited. If the result is okay and negative, the boy could go home tomorrow, Wednesday, because he has initially been given an anti-toxin medicine. So more or less, the well-being of the boy is observed,” she said.

“Right now, check natin ang mga vaccination history ng mga bata. Dapat kasi three vaccinations (right now, let us check the vaccination history of the children. It must be three vaccinations),” Bulaong said.

Dr. Johna Pauline Mandac, Dinalupihan Municipal Health Officer, said they have a good vaccination rate of 75 percent.

“Hindi kami nalalayo sa target namin although we are still intensifying efforts to make sure na vaccinated lahat, fully immunized ang mga children by the age of one at kasama din ang mga lectures sa barangay level at schools para intensify ang importance ng vaccination sa pediatric population (We are not far from our target although we are still intensifying efforts to make sure that all are vaccinated, the children were fully immunized by the age of one and included are lectures in the barangay level and school to intensify the importance of vaccination in pediatric population),” she said.

“Our parents here in Dinalupihan have no reason to worry,” Mandac said.

Meanwhile, Municipal Administrator Rolando Rojas said Mayor Maria Angela Garcia immediately called for a meeting on Tuesday after hearing of the four-year-old boy’s ailment. Ernie Esconde/PNA-