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Nine children between one and two years of age have died in an indigenous region of Panama in which a pertussis outbreak was detected, health authorities reported on Friday.
The head of the Department of Epidemiological Surveillance of the Ministry of Health, Israel Cedeño, said that the first case of whooping cough was detected in mid-December in the Ngäbe Buglé region, located in the Panamanian west, and that to date it has been confirmed 81 cases, including those of the dead children.
The small ones, between one and two years of age, died "due to complications of the disease", and are cases that were registered in the Loma Yuca sector of the region, Cedeño said.
The health official said that the necessary protocols have been activated to deal with the situation, but stressed that the authorities are faced the fact that the region is very difficult to access, which delays the collection of information and its updating.
The four health teams that have been deployed in the area also come across the fact that indigenous people do not accept vaccination because of cultural issues.
"The indigenous comarcas in general are culturally somewhat closed on the issue of sharing their health problems, and that has hindered a bit the approach", Cedeño said at a press conference.
For his part, the general director of Health, Itza Barahona, told local television that just as vaccination is important, given the characteristics of the bacteria should be applied in several doses of reinforcement, so it is the use of antibiotics to attack the disease in affected people.
Barahona indicated that the health authorities recommend the isolation of people with the disease to prevent its spread.
The Ministry of Health indicated that the symptoms of whooping cough start with a cold and then continues with the three characteristic stages of the disease, including coughing fits, facial flushing and even bluish discoloration around the lips.