CEBU CITY -- For every 1,000 residents in the city this year, one suffered from dengue fever.

The Cebu City Health Department reported a 35.31 percent increase in dengue fever cases from January to July, compared to figures from the same period in 2009.

Six persons died of dengue fever in the first half of the year, compared to 13 deaths in the same period last year, said the City Epidemiology Statistics and Surveillance Unit (CESSU).

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Still, with the rains becoming more frequent, city officials reminded communities to rid their surroundings of areas where the dengue-carrying aedis aegypti mosquito might breed.

In contrast to Cebu City, surveillance teams in Lapu-Lapu reported only 58 dengue fever cases from January to July, compared to 144 patients in the same months last year.

According to data collated from private and public hospitals and private clinics, one person died of dengue fever in Lapu-Lapu as of July this year, compared to three deaths last year.

While she is happy about the drop, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza said it’s too early to brag about a successful campaign, especially since the rainy season has just started.

The Department of Health recommends covering all water containers at all times to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Dengue fever is an acute infectious disease marked by a sudden, high fever that lasts two to seven days, joint and muscle pains, weakness, skin rashes, abdominal pain and nosebleeds when the fever begins to subside.

From January to July this year, Cebu City’s CESSU recorded 820 dengue fever cases, from 606 cases in the same months last year.

Males make up 53.6 percent of the patients, and the fever hit a broad range of ages, from three months to 78 years old.

Barangay Guadalupe reported the most number of cases, with 59, followed by Mambaling, 39; Punta Princesa, 34 cases; Labangon, 30 cases; and Basak San Nicolas, 29 cases.

The other barangays in the top 10 are Lahug (28), Talamban and Tisa (27 each), Apas (24) and Mabolo (23).

Assistant City Epidemiologist Durinda Macasucol said they are regularly conducting “search and destroy” operations, especially in barangays with a high incidence of dengue fever.

Drive

With the help of barangay officials, they scheduled a massive spraying operation starting next week.

“We will start our massive spraying on Aug. 21 in Mambaling, because they have the second highest number of dengue cases. We expect the help of barangay officials, health center staff, clean and green employees and community volunteers,” Macasucol said.

The City Government provides free health services like laboratory examinations for suspected dengue fever cases in the city.

Meanwhile, City Health Officer Rodolfo Berame attributed the drop in Lapu-Lapu’s dengue fever incidence to their information drive on the destruction of the mosquitoes’ breeding places.

Last year, there were 409 cases with seven deaths. In 2008, there were 500 cases, with 12 deaths.

This year, the City shifted to a less costly approach to destroy breeding sites using only saltwater, cooking oil and cheaper larvaecidal solutions.

From 2007 to 2009, the City relied solely on the DNAmaxx solution, spending millions.

Berame, in his progress report, said the other strategies the City implemented were reactivating barangay and school dengue brigades; conducting regular cleanup drives in every sitio and purok; posting information materials in barangay halls, markets, public utility terminals and health centers; conducting lectures during parents and teachers’ meetings every month in elementary and high schools; monitoring of high-risk barangays.

“Because of the information drive, the number of dengue cases fell, and also (the number of) other endemic diseases like diarrhea and typhoid fever,” Berame told reporters.

He said City Hall should consider launching an annual “cleanest barangay contest” to draw more attention to its anti-dengue campaign. (ETB/AIV/Sun.Star Cebu)