CLOSE to 200 barangays in the Philippines are now under tight watched by the Department of Health (DOH) due to increasing dengue cases, including Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte and Bukidnon in Davao Region.

Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona said reports from the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) indicated that from January 1 to June 26 this year, a total of 25,283 dengue cases were admitted to the department's sentinel hospitals.

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At least 190 deaths have been recorded this year.

Ona said the cases are 40 percent higher than the 18,055 cases recorded during the same period in 2009. Eastern Visayas pegged the highest number of occurrences.

He urged the public to help battling dengue-causing mosquito species Aedes Aegypti by eliminating possible breeding sites. These mosquitoes are day-biting and thrive in clean but stagnant water.

In Misamis Oriental, where 10 residents have already succumbed to deadly mosquito bites in the past six months, sanitary inspectors are set to conduct information dissemination about dengue anytime this week.

The information drive would focus on Tagoloan town, which has the highest recorded dengue cases in the province, said Aldo Obenza of the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

From January to June, this year, the town has at least a hundred dengue victims, followed by Gingoog City, 86, and Villanueva, 54.

DOH sentinel sites in Cagayan de Oro, meanwhile, has recoded 500 cases, though some of the victims are nonresidents and only get treatment in the city.

Obenza said they are also training nurses to expand their curative skills and be able to help in prevention and control of dengue cases.

Moreover, the DOH report said the 172 barangays under close watch because of rising dengue cases are in Ilocos Sur, Laguna, Quezon, Batangas, Rizal, Mindoro Oriental, Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental, Ilo-ilo, Capiz, Aklan, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, Davao del Norte, Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte.

It also included Cotabato City, General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Saranggani, South Cotabato, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Mt. Province, Benguet, and Ifugao.

Certain communities in these provinces were observed to have clustering of dengue cases - a condition wherein there are "three or more dengue cases in a village during the past four weeks."

Of the 25,283 cases, Eastern Visayas accounts for 11.6 percent of cases while Calabarzon hits 10.9, Soccskargen 10.7, Metro Manila 10.4, Central Visayas 9.8, and Davao 9.2.

According to DOH program manager for National Dengue Control Program Lyndon Leesuy, the increase could be blamed for the El Nino, which prompted affected families to store water in containers.

"Most of the time, these containers are not covered so they become breeding sites for dengue mosquitoes. That's why the number of cases is higher during the first quarter of the year," he added.

On the other hand, Leesuy warned that with the onset of the rainy season, dengue outbreaks would likely occur in affected areas.

"Be it summer or rainy days, dengue will be there. It's all-year round so we cannot let our guard down. It's simple," he said, noting eliminating the possible breeding grounds is also one major solution. (ALR/Sunnex)