THE Davao City Health Office (CHO) reported Friday that 16 more patients, mostly children, died of dengue, bringing to 57 the number of deaths caused by the mosquito-borne disease since January, this year.

CHO Head Josephine Villafuerte noted that although the morbidity rate of dengue in Davao City has gone down, the mortality rate "is still higher compared to 2009."

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From August 1 to 24, 16 more deaths due to dengue were recorded by the health office.

There were 41 deaths recorded from January to July this year. Villafuerte said most of those who died from dengue were children.

Villafuerte said the number of dengue cases reported from January to July remained above the alert threshold, but were not consistently above the epidemic threshold. Alert and epidemic thresholds are based on a five-year trend.

There were 441 cases reported in January as against the alert threshold of 243 and epidemic threshold of 461. The mortality rate was highest in February, which had 373 cases, against an alert threshold of 187 and an epidemic threshold of 279.

In March there were 247 cases against an alert threshold of 168 and epidemic threshold of 288; 260 cases in April against an alert threshold of 165 and epidemic threshold of 322; and 104 cases in May against an alert threshold of 191 and 409 for the epidemic threshold.

The number of cases soared in June to 417 as against an alert level of 256 and epidemic threshold of 525. In July the numbers dropped to 322 dengue cases with alert level of 271 and epidemic threshold of 271.

"From August 1 to 24 our dengue cases are at 175. Right now we're below the alert threshold," Villafuerte said.

Villafuerte said she expects the number to drop in the coming weeks after the City Government intensified its campaign to prevent and control the spread of dengue.

"Ang critical na ngayon is how to cure the patients. Medyo mataas ang mortality rate natin, 19 last month and 16 as of August 24. When I asked what were the reasons why namatay yung mga pasyente the doctors said it's because matagal bago nadala sa hospital ang mga pasyente," Villafuerte.

Dengue, according to Villafuerte, does not have a cure. Its symptoms include fever that goes away, on average, after the third day, which is also usually when other signs of dengue appear.

“Magkakaroon ng red spots yung katawan. Kailangan kung napansin na paulit ulit yung lagnat dito pa lang maidala na sa ospital yung pasyente," Villafuerte said. (Patients will have rashes. It’s best if patients are brought to the hospital when it is noticed that the fever keeps returning.)

Villafuerte said a dengue patient whose platelets have gone up may be advised to go home.

She added the health office continues to monitor areas with the most number of cases.

"Consistent pa rin ang areas ng Talomo, Toril, Buhangin, kasi ang mga areas na ito are swampy areas. We're continuing our advisory to schools to conduct regular clean-up drives within their school,” she also said.

Villafuerte also said it is included in the 4S against dengue for people to wear protective gear, such as choosing to wear long over short pants.

She reminded that prevention can be done by avoiding mosquito bites; eliminating pockets of stagnant water that serve as breeding sites of mosquitoes at home, in workplaces, and other vicinities; not storing water in open containers; covering all water containers; 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 tanks to prevent mosquitoes gaining access.

The dengue virus is transmitted to humans through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which bites in the daytime.

Dengue symptoms usually include fever within five to six days; severe headache; severe joint and muscle pains; nausea and vomiting; skin rashes (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. (JCZ/With Sunnex)