THE Department of Health (DOH) feared a repeat of the 1998 dengue outbreak with the continuous soaring of recorded cases in the country.

In a press conference, DOH–National Epidemiology Center (NEC) Chief Eric Tayag said the situation that the region is in right now is almost similar to that of 1998, when there was also an El Niño phenomenon.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

“This year, the number of dengue cases in the country is relatively higher compared to other years because of El Niño… after 12 years of hiatus, dito sa region, we are having the same problem sa dengue noong 1998,” said Tayag.

He noted the need to store more water, which are perfect breeding grounds for dengue-carrying mosquitoes, is seen as one of the primary causes of the spread of dengue.

Tayag also said they are afraid that the current trend of dengue cases could lead to the country reaching 70,000 cases this year alone.

“In 1998, ang dengue cases daw natin more than 38,000; some 57,000 in 2009; and baka umabot 70,000 this year,” said Tayag.

Latest NEC records show that from January 1 to July 17 this year, a total of 31,735 dengue cases were reported in various hospital in the country along with 228 deaths.

So far, Tayag noted the recorded outbreaks in Digos City, Davao del Sur, which has 213 cases and 12 deaths, and in Santa Margarita in Samar, which has 14 cases and one death.

For his part, Energy Secretary Enrique Ona related that the country is not alone in having to deal with the spread of dengue as other countries in the region are experiencing similar problems.

He said he was surprised when he learned of the same phenomenon that are taking place in the Philippines’ neighboring countries.

“Ang dengue ngayon is not only in the Philippines but in the whole ASEAN region,” Ona said.

To recall, about 350,000 cases and nearly 1,500 deaths were reported in the Southeast Asian region back in 1998 prompting the World Health Organization to declare a dengue outbreak in the region. (AMN/Sunnex)