Warning up vs mosquito-borne diseases despite dry season

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Monday, April 7, 2014


THE Department of Health (DOH) on Monday warned the public against complacency versus mosquito-borne diseases despite the onset of the summer season.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the dry season does not necessarily mean that the country is already safe from mosquito-borne diseases.

"Sa ganitong panahon na ang mga rivers natin ay nakukulangan na ng tubig at ang daloy ng tubig ay napakahina, dito dumadami itong gating mga lamok," said Ona in an interview.

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This is despite the number of dengue cases in the country already continuing its declining figures.

Based on the Dengue Surveillance Report of the DOH, the number of dengue cases in the country is only at 15,374 from the period of January 1 to March 29.

"This is 51.05 percent lower compared to the same period last year, which was 31,407," said the DOH.

Cases were found to be highest in Central Luzon with 1,982 cases; followed by Calabarzon with 1,877; National Capital Region with 1,623; Eastern Visayas with 1,385; and Soccsksargen with 1,241.

In Metro Manila, Quezon City had the highest number of dengue cases with 310; followed by Manila with 300; Las Pinas City with 141; and Pasig City with 140.

And to counter this, the health chief said it is important to always ensure cleanliness inside and outside homes and in the community.

"Dapat nating maintindihan na kalinisan ang napaka-halaga para hindi natin mapadami ang mga lamok," said Ona.

The DOH said it is important to get rid of stagnant water from places where mosquitoes breed, such as old containers, flower pots, and used tires.

The DOH appeal is in response to the call of the World Health Organization (WHO) for this year's observance of the World Health Day, which has a theme of protection versus vector-borne diseases like dengue, malaria, Chikungunya, or filariasis.

And in order to highlight the call, Ona, Health Assistant Secretary Dr Eric Tayag and WHO Country Representative Dr. Julie Hall led DOH and WHO-Philippines personnel in launching the anti-mosquito dance.

In a brief program after the flag ceremony inside the DOH compound in Manila, they danced to a mash-up tune of "Mosquitoes", "Timber" and "Alam Mo Ba?", which was sung by children of DOH personnel.

Aside from cleaning and eliminating possible breeding sites, the DOH said it is also important to always wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and trousers, using insect repellants, installing window screens, and sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets.

In a related development, Tayag said they are looking at the possibility of Chikungunya virus already becoming endemic in the country.

He said this is because the disease is already on its third straight year since making a return in 2011.

"Nagiging endemic na ito. This is the longest already. Kasi yung nakaraang mga taon, mga one to two years lang tapos nawawala ang Chikungunya. Ngayon, we are on the third year already," said Tayag in a separate interview.

He said having Chikungunya as an endemic disease in the country could pose problems owing to its similarities with the more deadly dengue virus.

"Walang namamatay sa Chikungunya. So kapag na-misdiagnose ng doktor na Chikungunya, baka hindi ma-monitor sa tinatawag na danger signs ng dengue. Baka mamatay ang patients. Kasi sa dengue, mino-monitor mo ang platelet count. Sa Chikungunya, hinahayaan mo lang bumaba ang lagnat," said Tayag.

The head of the DOH – National Epidemiology Center said they are still assessing the possible reasons why it has stayed in the country longer than expected.

Tayag also said they are now looking at making Chikungunya cases among the diseases that are regularly being reported to the DOH in order to be able to monitor the number of cases nationwide.

Chikungunya is a viral disease that is transmitted from human to human by the bites of female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictues mosquitoes.

Among the symptoms of the disease are severe and persistent headache, red eyes, difficulty in directly looking at light, nausea, measles-like rashes, ulcers, and loss of taste.

Also, in the long run, the virus may either cause shock, bleeding, or organ failure; or joint pains that may last for years. (HDT/Sunnex)

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