Dengue in the city-A A +A
Saturday, July 14, 2012
THE report from the Health department on the rise of dengue cases in Central Visayas was disconcerting.
For the first six months of the year, the number of dengue cases rose by over 60 percent compared to the number in the same period last year. The sharp increase and how it came about were not adequately explained, except the Department of Health in the region stressed there was need for action.
The report published last Friday said there were 4,019 cases and 25 deaths from January 1 to July 7, 2012 based on records of dengue cases submitted by government hospitals and other units. This number of cases was 64.6 percent higher from last year. Patients were mostly below six years old.
The Health department’s Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit reported that Cebu City had the most number at 1,858 cases and 11 deaths, or 45.5 percent of the total number of dengue cases in the region. Almost half of those who got afflicted were in Cebu City.
This was followed by Lapu-Lapu City, also in Metro Cebu, in terms of dengue deaths with three who succumbed to complications and 167 patients. Not a record to be proud of for Metro Cebu but it shows the concentration of dengue cases in these congested cities.
Local leaders should be alarmed by these figures but even they may not be aware of the complete picture. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, in his recent State of the City Address, even thanked the Health department for its anti-dengue activities.
The number of cases is never enough to show the extent of the danger. For implementers of the campaign against the disease, it is important they get the complete picture to address the growing risk.
Dengue fever is caused by the genus flavivirus that is transmitted by certain mosquitoes that breed in clean and stagnant water. Symptoms include high continuous fever lasting for two to seven days, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, body weakness, bleeding from the nose and gums, persistent red spots on the face and extremities. There is no vaccine against dengue so anyone with fever or showing symptoms for two or more days should be brought immediately to the hospital.
While the figures are there to guide local leaders and the community, the report does not identify the barangays where there is a concentration of dengue cases. It does not say also the new strains of dengue or how the virus has mutated.
Earlier reports pointed to how the dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes no longer bite only during the day. Contrary to what the public had been told, the new variations of these mosquitoes may bite even at night or during different times of the day. Patients may start bleeding sooner or just a few days after the onset of fever; and the destruction of white blood cells by the virus may be more rapid than earlier believed.
The reporting on the number of cases should only be a starting point as there is more that communities can learn about the disease in order to be able to respond more effectively.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 15, 2012.