MANILA - Diphtheria caused the death of a 10-year-old girl in Manila last week, the Department of Health said Thursday.
Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo made the confirmation a day after the elementary student's death was reported.
The Grade 4 student of the Jacinto Zamora Elementary School was wracked with fever last Sept. 13, later had rashes and mouth sores, and passed away on Sept. 20, hours after she was clinically diagnosed with diphtheria, according to a school nurse.
Diphtheria primarily infects the throat and upper airways, and produces a toxin affecting other organs, which may in severe cases, also cause myocarditis or peripheral neuropathy, according to the World Health Organization.
The disease is spread through direct physical contact or from breathing in the aerosolized secretions from coughs or sneezes of infected individuals, it added.
Its symptoms include difficulty in breathing and swallowing, and a membrane covering the throat and sinus.
There is a vaccine against Diphtheria, usually included in the 6-in-1 or Pentavalent vaccine given to infants aged 6 weeks.
DOH said from January to September this year, there have been 167 cases and 40 deaths compared to 122 cases and 30 deaths cases in the same period in 2018.
"The reasons for the trend are being investigated," DOH said in a statement Wednesday.
DOH also urged parents to faithfully have their children vaccinated, to "equally protect our infants and young children from other vaccine preventable diseases."
"Now more than ever, the importance of protecting our infants and children from vaccine preventable diseases remains paramount," it added, amid an intensified "Back to Bakuna" (return to vaccine) campaign.
--With a report from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News