Dengue-free for a week-A A +A
Monday, September 23, 2013
MY FRIEND and radio co-anchor, Omar Redula, calls it the modern day scourge. Indeed, who hasn’t heard of dengue and the anguish that it causes on the family of the afflicted? Is there anyone in this part of the world who doesn’t know someone who or whose relative contracted the illness that is preceded by a mosquito bite?
Consider this: A total of 1,103 dengue incidents were recorded in the entire Cebu island during a five-week period starting August 1, this year. That’s an average of
220 new incidents per week.
In Cebu City alone, 353 cases were reported during that same period, the highest in the province, followed by Lapu-Lapu City with 75 and Mandaue City with 55.
Although the records made available by the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit of
the Department of Health Region 7 do not show it, some of these dengue patients may have died from the disease.
The high incidence of dengue in Cebu and the other provinces in the region prompted the creation of the Dengue-Free Movement, a broad coalition of civic clubs and individuals spearheaded by the Cebu Medical Society (CMS).
Rich in determination but lacking in wherewithal, the movement hit the jackpot when it received funding from the Rotary Clubs in Canada early this year.
Last Sunday, on the occasion of the opening of Medicine Week, Dr. Wyben Briones, a former CMS president who has been shepherding the anti-dengue campaign, announced what should be the perfect gift to Cebu on Medicine Week: there was zero incidence of dengue in all of Cebu, except one in Alegria, during the week ending September 17!
What makes the statistics even more impressive is that September is historically one of the peak months for dengue. What happened? How did the Dengue-Free Movement accomplish what seemed impossible only a few months ago?
Briones ascribed the dramatic development to a formula known as larvicide which they applied on swamps and other areas containing stagnant water all over Cebu on Aug. 17 and 18, this year.
The formula, which comes in the form of granules, has been in use in Thailand and other Asian countries for decades and has been proven to be safe to humans and not harmful to the environment. In fact, he said, you can pour a few grams of granules into a jar and still use the water for cooking.
Three weeks after the massive application of the larvicide, dengue incidence began to taper off with only 72 cases in Cebu, according to the DOH records. During that period (Week 36 in the DOH monitoring calendar) Cebu City had only 22 cases, compared to 76
the week before. Then on Week 37, the disease just simply vanished.
It’s still too early to say whether dengue has been vanquished and that we no longer have to worry about going outdoors, getting bitten by mosquitoes and subsequently experiencing diving platelet counts. The larva of the Aedes Aegypti could mutate and prove resistant to larvicide.
But regardless of what happens in the future, the fact that for one week, Cebu was dengue free is nothing short of miraculous and we have to thank people like Briones for making it happen.
Briones himself was profuse in his thanks to the people he worked with in the movement. He singled out the barangay health workers for particular praise. “They were awesome,” he said.
May your and their tribes increase, Doc Wyben.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 24, 2013.