Two more die as whooping cough expands to Cocle, Metro Area and beyond

It’s not just kids who are getting their shots. Photo by the Ministry of Health.

Whooping cough breaks out of the comarca into the Metro Area, Cocle and Panama Este – two new deaths reported

by Eric Jackson

At the end of January the Ministry of Health announced that an outbreak of whooping cough – pertussis – in a mountainous area of the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca had infected 81 people and killed nine. All of those who died were small children. Plenty of people figured that it was just a problem in that remote region.

On February 20 the ministry issued an alarming update. In the comarca there were 14 new cases, without any new fatalities. But the disease outbreak has spread far away – seven new cases in the Metro Area, two in the part of Panama City between the Panama City / San Miguelito area and Darien, and two in Cocle province. Of these 11 people who were infected, two have died.

If you are a small child or in frail health, whooping cough can easily kill you. If you are a healthy adult, you may get very ill. It’s very dangerous to pregnant women and the babies they carry. It starts with cold-like symptoms and soon gets worse. For more information, visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web page about the disease at

It’s all quite preventable by vaccination, and if detected in time generally treatable with antibiotics. The problem with figuring that you are at low risk of death is that you can get the infection and then spread it to others. If you or members of your household have not been vaccinated – the inoculation lasts for about 10 years – get to a physician or outpatient clinic and get immunized.

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