The Ministry of Health (MOH) is investigating the cause of pertussis (whooping cough) infection among a mother and her two children in Kampung Bahagia, Rompin, Pahang, says Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

She said initial checks found the infection began from the mother, but further investigations were still underway.

"Pertussis is present in the country and it has been classified as endemic," she told the media after the signing of a Note of Understanding (NoU) on strategic cooperation in health and firefighting between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Local Government Development (KPKT) here, today.

Meanwhile, Health director-general Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan in a statement today said the three patients had been given treatment and were in a stable condition.

"As of now, no new cases have been detected in the area where the patients live," he said in a statement issued on the status of pertussis cases in Malaysia this year as of Aug 19 (2023).

He said a total of 329 pertussis cases with 23 deaths had been reported nationwide as of Aug 19 this year, which was a 52.8 per cent decrease from the same period in 2019.

Dr Muhammad Radzi said that of the 329 pertussis cases reported this year, 219 cases or 66.6 per cent involved Malaysians while the remaining 110 cases involved foreigners.

He said those aged below 12 months made up the highest number of cases with 189.

"Although the infection is under control, the Ministry of Health remains vigilant and takes appropriate measures to ensure it does not become a major health problem in the country.

"The Ministry of Health's priority is to ensure that pertussis immunisation coverage among children in the country remains above 95 per cent to protect them from infection," he said, adding that infants were the most vulnerable to the disease.

In Malaysia, the vaccine for pertussis is given routinely to babies at the age of two, three, five and 18 months. It is given in the form of a six-in-one vaccine covering diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

Urging parents to ensure that children get complete immunisation according to the National Immunisation Schedule, Dr Muhammad Radzi said children who had missed any jabs could have them administered at a nearby health clinic.

Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis with germs spread through the air when a patient sneezes or coughs and infects the mouth, nose and throat.

The typical symptoms of pertussis is a cough that lasts for one to two weeks, which could extend for up to two months.

Severe complications such as pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs), encephalopathy (inflammation of the brain) and death could also occur if early treatment is not received.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency