Killer cough hits kids

National, Normal

The National – Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ELEVEN people, mostly children under the age of five, have died as a result of an outbreak of whooping cough last month but was only reported this week, Madang provincial health officer, Paul Mabong said yesterday.
Mabong said the airborne infection spread by coughing, affected children from the four villages of the Andarum census division in inland Bogia.
The villages affected are Barit, Sokmun, Parit and Andarum.
The villages are more than an hour’s walk from the nearest aid post at Barit.
Mabong said the symptoms were prolonged dry coughing that caused the person to run out of breath.
 “This then makes the person produce a wheezing sound when inhaling to cough again,” he said.
“In a child’s body the heart can only hold off oxygen supply for a certain time.
“This coughing process affects the heart due to the lack of oxygen getting in and may cause the child to die eventually,” he said.
Mabong yesterday sent two teams of health workers with antibiotics to the affected area.
The vehicle will leave them at Igom Mission Station from where they will trek another two to three hours on foot.
Mabong said the two main reasons for the outbreak had been lack of organised patrols in inaccessible areas and weak vaccines that may have been used previously.
The normal triple antigen vaccine given to babies during clinics now called pentavalent is the same being used to administer to babies until the three doses are completed.
Most children in the affected villages are believed to have never been immunised.