THOUSANDS of athletes from different parts of Northern Mindanao have started arriving in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday.

And with only two days left before the Palarong Pampook kicks off at the Don Gregorio Pelaez Sports Center, the visitors have one potent danger to keep in mind -- other than the sporting rivalry -- during their week-long stay here.

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Putting up a good performance on the playing fields is one thing.

Keeping away from "clear and present danger" which is to be afflicted by the treacherous dengue fever is another thing.

"Sa sitwasyon karon, dili lang ang sports competition ang ilang I surmount. Kinahanglan nga ila usab nga likayan kining threat sa mga dengue-causing mosquitoes," one local coach warned, fully aware that dengue cases have long been perceived to be endemic in the region.

In fact, dengue patients are not short in number in most Cagayan de Oro hospitals with mortality rate alarming enough to send shivers down the spine of the health-conscious individuals.

Athletic delegates from as far as Oroquieta City, Tangub City, Ozamiz, Bukidnon and Camiguin, among others, are traditionally housed in different public schools in the city, thus exposing them to the great risk of mosquito bites that caused dengue fever.

"Karon nga daghan na ang biktima sa dengue, it is but wise and timely nga mag-conduct og fumigation or defogging sa mga schools diin naka-billet ang mga atleta kay dili basta-basta kon matakboyan sa maong sakit," remarked another concerned sports official.

At least two school varsity athletes here were recently hospitalized due to dengue. The good thing is, their coach said, the victims were not among those who qualified to represent the city in the Northern Mindanao Regional Athletic Association (NMRAA) Meet, otherwise known as Palarong Pampook.

The host province of Misamis Oriental has quartered its athletes at the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS), while Cagayan de Oro delegation picked the City Central School as the billeting quarter of its players starting Friday (February 12).