JUST before the fifth-year celebration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Dengue Day on June 15, education and health officials reminded the public to be vigilant against dengue after the region’s dengue cases and fatalities continue to rise.

During a press conference yesterday, Dr. Berna Ysulan, Department of Education (DepEd) 7’s supervising dentist, said that 27 students in Central Visayas, mostly from public schools belonging to the Cebu City Schools Division, contracted dengue last year.

This is lower compared to the previous school year, which had 50 reported cases, Ysulan said.

Top of the list

But officials of the Department of Health (DOH) 7 said dengue cases in the region went up just before the first half of the year.

Dr. Jonathan Niel Erasmo, DOH 7 dengue program coordinator, told reporters that as of last month, they have monitored 2,045 dengue cases and nine confirmed deaths.

This is 20 percent higher compared to the same period last year, which recorded 1,713 cases and seven deaths.

Two of Cebu’s major cities have the most number of dengue cases and fatalities.

Majority of the cases and fatalities came from Cebu City, with 405 cases and two deaths. Next to Cebu City is Lapu-Lapu City, with 89 cases and zero deaths.

Toledo City came third with 80 cases and zero fatalities.

Dr. Jonathan Loreche, the Cebu City Health Office’s dengue coordinator, said one factor why Cebu City tops the list is rapid urbanization.

To prevent the spread of dengue, Erasmo reminded the public to follow the “Four o’ clock habit” by conducting dengue prevention every 4 p.m.

Regular clean-up must also be observed, including eradicating possible breeding sites for dengue mosquitoes, Erasmo said.

In DepEd’s case, Ysulan said they have been vigilant in preventing the spread of dengue.

Ysugan said that through the assistance of nongovernment groups, such as the Rotary Club International, DepEd was able to secure larvicide temephos, which is used to destroy possible breeding sites.

She also said they are coordinating with DOH in training teachers to include dengue prevention in the students’ lessons.