The number of invasive pneumococcal cases reported this year has dropped by nearly 30 percent to its lowest in three years, but people in high-risk groups should still receive vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control said on Tuesday.
As of Feb. 25, 101 people had contracted the disease, of which 13 died, the centers said, adding that during the same period last year 145 people contracted the infection, of which 16 died, while in 2015, 125 people became ill, among whom 27 died.
Invasive pneumococcal disease is most common in the winter and spring; the bacteria can be spread through direct contact, oral contact or via coughs or sneezes, and it can remain in their nose or throat without making the carrier ill, but it can be transmitted to the rest of the body through the respiratory tract when a person’s immune system weakens, it said.
The disease can result in infections of the blood such as bacteremia or sepsis, as well as pneumonia, bacterial meningitis and other diseases, the centers said, adding that people with cancer, diabetes, an immunodeficiency disease, or who are taking steroids or immunosuppressive drugs, are at increased risk of infection.
The centers said the best way to prevent the disease is by being vaccinated, so people aged 75 or older who have not received a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine since they were 65, and children under five who have not gotten a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine are advised to receive vaccinations from local health departments or cooperating hospitals.
In related news, the centers announced that late last month cholera outbreaks were reported in the central Philippines, in areas including the Visayan Islands, Bohol Island and Carnaza Island.
At least 100 people were confirmed to have been infected with cholera, of whom one died — a four-year-old girl — it said.
The majority who contract the disease suffer from serious diarrhea, it said, adding that a cluster of cholera cases was reported among tourists from the Philipines in South Korea on Feb. 21.
Cholera is caused by bacteria and the transmission is mainly fecal-oral via contaminated food or water, centers Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said, adding that common symptoms include watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration, kidney failure, unconsciousness from electrolyte imbalances and even death if treatment is delayed.
People visiting the Philippines should avoid eating seafood, iced desserts or putting ice cubes in their beverages, he said.
Reports over the past few years indicate that most Taiwanese tourists who became ill with diarrhea in the Philippines had ingested such products, he said, adding that seafood might not be cooked thoroughly, while water used to make ice can be contaminated.
People visiting areas where cholera is spreading should drink boiled water, beverages that have been properly packaged or pasteurized milk, while ice cubes and raw food should be avoided, the centers said.
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