THE onset of rainy season and marshlands in Davao del Sur brought on the scourge of dengue, which forced the Provincial Government to declare a state of calamity in order to access funds to address the problem.

Provincial Information Officer Nilda Ani ñon said the onset of the rainy season "multiplied further the already swampy area of their province."

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"Marami talagang (there are many) swampy areas ang Davao del Sur. During the final part of May maraming mga malalakas na ulan yung time na yon at dumami yung tubig sa mga sulok-sulokan," Ani ñon said in an interview Friday after Kapihan sa PIA media forum.

On Wednesday, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) declared a "dengue epidemic" in Davao del Sur after noting the rising cases of dengue fever in the province from the month of January up to present.

Governor Douglas Ra Cagas has placed the entire province in a state of calamity on Thursday to expedite the release of funds to address dengue outbreak.

Cagas said the Provincial Government will be purchasing medicines needed, like fluids and vitamins, and will spend for the eradication of the mosquitoes all over the province.

Aside from the rainfall and marshlands, Aniñon said a community's lack of attention to cleanliness can also be blamed.

"Of course another reason gyud is ang dili pagpanglimpyo. Niulan man dapat manlimpyo giyapon (Another reason is not cleaning areas where dengue-carrying mosquitos can reproduce. After the rain, people should have been cleaning up)," Aniñon said.

Aniñon said it is the second time Davao del Sur has been declared under state of calamity, but its first for having the reason of a dengue outbreak. "The last time we were declared was some twenty years ago pa," she said.

Fourteen deaths

Dengue deaths have already risen to 14, she said.

"In January to June 30 there was a record of 12 deaths. On July 7 nadagdagan ito ng dalawa, one from Digos and another from Bansalan," she said.

The PHO has recorded an alarming number of 600 residents already afflicted with the disease and admitted to various hospitals in the province.

Aniñon said majority of these are in Digos City with 352 cases.

"Ninety-five sa Bansalan; 52 sa Sta. Cruz; and 26 sa Malalag or Sta. Cruz I could not recall. And in other areas kaunti lang," Aniñon added.

In Davao del Sur Provincial Hospital alone, more than 10 patients were diagnosed to have dengue. In 2009, a total of 246 dengue patients were recorded in Davao del Sur with only two deaths.

Massive clean-up

Aniñon said the province is now on a "state of a massive clean-up drive."

"We have more or less 337 barangays and we are now working on an improved campaign against dengue. Nagma-massive clean-up ngayon doon. We are intense in teaching people about dengue. Aside from disseminating materials for preventing dengue such as mosquito nets and repellants we also tell them to use these. Down to the barangay level, we are closely monitoring the situation," she said.

Cagas has ordered the Provincial Government to keep the cases down and prevent more occurrences.

Aniñon, however, was not able to disclose what is the exact amount set by the province against dengue as financing have not yet been finalized. "It is however at 5 percent of the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) ang budget for calamities," she said.

"Pero sa ngayon merong assistance of about P750 per person na talagang malala na sa sakit niya," she said.

Dengue virus is transmitted to humans through Aedes aegypti mosquito, which bites in day time. It transmits disease through biting an infected person and then biting someone else.

Dengue symptoms usually include fever within five to six days; severe headache; severe joint and muscle pain; nausea and vomiting; skin rash (the rash may appear over most of the body three to four days after fever); and bleeding from the nose, gums or under the skin, causing purplish bruises.

Prevention can be done by avoiding mosquito bites; eliminating pockets of stagnant water that serve as mosquito breeding sites at home, workplaces and other vicinity; not storing water in open containers; covering all water containers with lids; preventing mosquito entry by keeping doors closed and windows screened; wearing protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when outdoors; using mosquito nets at home; scrubbing and cleaning margins of containers used for water (to dislodge the eggs of Aedes aegypti); and covering overhead tank to prevent access to mosquitoes.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) is distributing mosquito nets worth P3 million to public elementary schools in Northern Mindanao, as part of its dengue prevention program.

Dr. David Mendoza, head of DOH Epidemiology Department in Northern Mindanao, said olyset roll, an insecticide-treated white mosquito net, will be given out in schools to be used as curtains inside the classrooms. (Jade C. Zaldivar/with Sunnex)