UAE: Filipino mothers guard their kids against whooping coughs amid the outbreak

Concerned about the rising number of whooping cough infections in the Philippines, especially in light of the recent infant deaths, Filipino expats living in the United Arab Emirates are preparing to return home with their kids.

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Whooping cough, sometimes called pertussis in scientific circles, is a highly contagious respiratory ailment that primarily affects young children and is quite dangerous for those under two years old. Like COVID-19, it disseminates quickly by airborne droplets released during sneezing and coughing.

According to Philippine health authorities, from January 1 to March 30, there have been 1,112 reported cases of the disease, with 54 resulting in fatalities. Alarmingly, all the deceased were under the age of five. KC Español, a Dubai resident, is closely monitoring the outbreak as she prepares to travel with her 11-month-old baby to the Philippines for the first time. Despite no reported cases in their hometown in Pangasinan province, she plans to take extra precautions during their stay in Manila.

Concerns are particularly heightened in areas where outbreaks have been declared. Quezon City in Manila has reported 25 cases and five deaths as of March 21, while Iloilo City in the province of Iloilo and Cavite province have also reported cases and fatalities. Precautionary measures are being taken by individuals like Jannah Biba from Fujairah, who is scheduled to travel with her two-year-old child in three weeks. They are bolstering their immunity with Vitamin C supplements, carrying sanitizers, face masks, and extra clothing for the journey.

In the United Arab Emirates, immunizations against whooping cough and other infections are required. Pediatrician Dr. Mazen Abou Chaaban of Fakeeh University Hospital highlights the seriousness of the illness, particularly in young children, and the value of immunization.

Despite vaccination, Dr. Azenith Limpalan Tammang-Casas, a pediatrician at Prime Hospital, advises parents to remain vigilant, as no vaccine offers complete immunity. Hand hygiene, wearing face masks in crowded places, and avoiding enclosed spaces are recommended preventive measures, particularly when traveling to areas with outbreaks.

While pregnant women and infants are prioritized for vaccination, adults are also advised to consider vaccination, especially when traveling to outbreak-prone areas. Roxane Negrillo, a Dubai-based mother currently in the Philippines with her son, emphasizes the importance of hygiene and vitamin intake when traveling.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial to bolstering the body's immune system against diseases like whooping cough and ensuring better protection even amidst outbreaks.

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