UHS advises using face masks amid pertussis surge

FEU Advocate
March 28, 2024 07:41

By Mark Vincent A. Durano

Far Eastern University (FEU) University Health Services (UHS) encouraged the voluntary wearing of face masks in light of the increasing cases of pertussis or whooping cough in Metro Manila.

“Mandatory wearing of a face mask is not necessary. However, we always advise persons with cough or colds to wear face masks and to practice cough etiquette to avoid the spread of their illnesses,” UHS Director Desiree Chiongson said in an online interview with FEU Advocate.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis which spreads through coughing or sneezing droplets.

Symptoms of pertussis include mild fever and runny nose upon seven to 10 days of infection, commonly followed by a hard, dry, loud, and spasmodic cough with a whooping sound or sharp inhalation. 

Additionally, children less than six months old may also experience vomiting or apnea.

Besides wearing face masks, UHS stresses on observing physical distancing, proper ventilation, and cough etiquette in preventing the transmission of pertussis.

Chiongson also urged the FEU community to take responsibility for safeguarding oneself from diseases by ensuring a strong and resilient immune system and body.

“It is essential to recognize that others may not always prioritize illness prevention as diligently as you do… Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit, keep physically active, get adequate sun exposure, take vitamins and mineral-supplements and get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night,” she stated.

As an added preventive measure against the infection, the Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis vaccine must be received during infancy along with a booster shot every 10 years. 

The vaccines are available on a per-order basis in UHS costing around P2,500 per shot if not taken during childhood.

“Take the proactive step of getting vaccinated to shield yourself from potential health threats. Visit UHS for information on available vaccines; it is a small investment for a lifetime of defense against deadly illnesses,” Chiongson added. 

In accordance with the Department of Health’s (DOH) Expanded Program on Immunization for infants, barangay and municipal health centers also issue free vaccines against pertussis.

Moreover, UHS reassures that the University operations will remain unaffected if the FEU community adheres to safety and health standards similar to COVID-19 protocols.

DOH logged 568 cases since the start of the year leading to the declaration of a pertussis outbreak in Quezon City and Pasig City while Iloilo City is under a state of calamity. 

The City of Manila has not reported any cases as of writing.

(Photo by Justine Jaerigg/FEU Advocate)