Panamanian health officials report an outbreak of tosferina (pertussis, or whooping cough) in the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé region since mid-December.

To date, 95 confirmed cases have been reported, of 84 are recovering and 11 fatalities in children under two years of age.

According to the head of the Ministerio de Salud (MINSA) the children died due to complications and were registered in the Loma Yuca sector of the region.

At the national level, there have been 11 cases, including two deaths: 7 cases in the Metropolitan Region, 2 in Panama East and 2  in Coclé.

Tosferina – Whooping cough, also called pertussis – is a highly infectious-contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract, caused by bacteria and preventable by vaccination. Appearance is possible at any age, but children under five are the most affected.

Left untreated, it can spread from a single infected person for several weeks, with people in the early stage of illness being the most contagious.

From the first known case, MINSA is applying all the measures of prevention and control of the disease. However, geographical, climatic, cultural, religious and high mobility difficulties of the affected groups have been experienced.

Whooping cough can be a serious illness. Symptoms usually begin appearing as cold symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, sore throat and usually little or no fever. After several days, the cough may become more severe; it may come in spasms or as a series of coughs without a chance to breathe between coughs. There may be a gasp or “whoop” and/or gagging or vomiting at the end of the coughing spasm.

Infants, particularly those less than six months of age, who contract whooping cough are at increased risk of complications, hospitalization and death.


  1. Go to the nearest health facility to review and update your vaccination schedule, especially pregnant women and children under five years of age, since vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease, and it can be applied in all ages and it’s free.
  2. In the presence of symptoms, go to the nearest health facility for proper and prompt care and comply with medical instructions.

Article first appeared at Today Panama, click here to go there