Some pertussis cases reported in Nonghet district of Xieng Khuang province in July and in Viengthong district of Borikhamxay province over the last two weeks are now under control.
The suspected pertussis cases in Xieng Khuang province have been confirmed through laboratory testing in the Philippines recently.
After that, medical staffers from the Ministry of Health travelled to these areas and worked with local health officials by encouraging the parents of targeted children to have their sons and daughters vaccinated against pertussis.
However, accessibility to these remote areas has been a challenge, especially in Nonghet district, where health workers have to cross the river by boat to get to the targeted villages.
Deputy Manager of the National Immunisation Programme Dr Kongxay Phounphenghack, told Vientiane Times yesterday that children who are infected with pertussis need to receive only one shot of vaccine against pertussis, instead of three times for lifelong protection.
So far, the National Programme of Immunisation has not known exactly how many cases have been infected with pertussis as it is still waiting for the test results from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Laboratory.
Regularly, babies receive the first shot at six weeks of age, the second shot at 10 weeks, and the third shot at 14 weeks.
Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough is caused by a bacterium, Bordetella Pertussis. In Viengthong district, the village head alerted the provincial health department and the Ministry of Health (MOH) about a number of villagers who have developed severe coughs and a joint MOH- WHO team was deployed to the affected village to support the response activities.
The WHO provided clinical management guidelines for pertussis infection prevention and control and supported the provincial surveillance team in active case finding.
Pertussis patients were treated with antibiotics and had their samples collected and sent for testing, while children in the villages were vaccinated.
Antibiotics and vaccines were procured by the Ministry of Health and sent to the affected villages. The antibiotics were given to patients and their close contacts; and routine immunisation activities and surveillance activities were conducted in the affected and neighbouring villages.
According to the WHO in Laos, pertussis usually begins with cold like symptoms and a cough. The cough becomes violent, and this may be followed by vomiting, breathlessness, a change in facial colour and/or high pitched inspiratory whoop.
It is easily spread from person-to-person through droplets from coughing and sneezing and someone touching surfaces with infectious discharges and then touching their mouth or nose.
Any individual that has not been immunised can be at risk of contracting pertussis, and the highest risk for severe or fatal pertussis is in infants, but infection can also occur in adolescents and adults. Babies who get pertussis are usually infected by older siblings, parents, or caregivers.
Infants less than six months of age are most likely to die from this disease. The breathing difficulties associated with this disease can be very distressing and frightening for the patient and their family. Patients will need sufficient rest, fluid and control of fever to recover from it.
Practicing good hygiene is always recommended to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. You should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. When you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Every child from two months old to all adults needs protection against these three diseases, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) with the Penta vaccine.
Vaccines are the most effective tool to prevent this disease; Penta vaccine is provided free to all babies in Laos under the routine immunisation programme. Visit the nearest health centre to get your child vaccinated.
Source: Vientiane Times