NOW that Central Visayas is feeling the onset of the El Niño, officials of the Department of Health 7 are urging the public to clean their surroundings following the possibility that dengue cases could increase because of the extreme weather condition.
This as the latest figures from the DOH Central Office show the region ranks first in the entire country in terms of number of dengue cases.
As of March 6 this year, the Department of Health (DOH) 7 recorded 4,505 people who were struck with the mosquito-borne disease with 29 deaths.
This is a 233 percent increase from the same period last year when there were only 1,352 cases and eight deaths, Dr. Shelbay Blanco, chief of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu) 7, said.
Blanco noted the rapid increase in the number of those affected by the disease.
Blanco said the El Niño weather phenomenon could hasten the maturity of the dengue virus.
“The higher temperature could increase the maturation rate of the virus itself,” Blanco said.
Not just in rainy season
Though the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is the carrier of the virus, often thrives during rainy season, it has now adapted to the changes in the climate of the region, Blanco added.
He urged the public to clean their surroundings and rid their homes of breeding places of mosquitoes.
The DOH has already activated its Dengue Task Force in Central Visayas and will focus its campaign on ridding communities of the dengue scourge down to the zone or “purok” level.
As this developed, the DOH recorded two more deaths in Cebu City earlier this month due to the measles virus.
Two toddlers, both two years old, died due to pneumonia which was complicated further by their measles infection.
Following the fatalities, the number of deaths attributed to measles has reached eight in the Central Visayas region, Blanco said.
He said poor nutrition also contributed to the two children’s deaths.
Aside from the eight deaths, the number of measles cases in the region from January to March 6 this year reached 737.
The youngest child affected with measles was just two months old.
Increase in vaccination
Meanwhile, the number of individuals who underwent vaccination against measles has increased.
Dr. Jeanette Pauline Cortes, DOH 7 medical officer 4, said the number of persons given vaccination has reached 135,299 or 36 percent of their overall target of 371,197 individuals to be vaccinated.
Cortes said one of the factors for the increase was the participation of public schools that initiated their own vaccination programs.
Dr. Jonathan Neil Erasmo, DOH 7 Local Health Support Division chief, said the recent measles outbreak serves as a “wake-up call” for parents to voluntarily have their children vaccinated. (From HBL of SuperBalita Cebu, JKV, VLA)