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  • PH's Dengue Cases Now at 250,000 and Expected to Rise During 'Ber Months

    Thirty-nine percent of all recorded deaths are child fatalities.
    by Kitty Elicay .
PH's Dengue Cases Now at 250,000 and Expected to Rise During 'Ber Months
PHOTO BY iStock
  • The dengue epidemic is far from over. According to the latest data from the Department of Health (DOH), cases have gone up to almost 250,000 nationwide with more than 1,000 individuals dying from dengue. This is a 109-percent increase from 2018.

    Of all reported cases, 25% are children ages 5 to 9 years old. Thirty-nine percent of all recorded deaths also belong to this age range, according to Inquirer.net.

    “The number of cases being reported on a weekly basis had decreased, but 10 regions remain above the epidemic threshold,” DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo said during the DOH Media Forum yesterday, September 10, 2019.

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    These regions include the National Capital Region, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos), and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

    Western Visayas records the highest number of dengue cases with 42,694 and 186 deaths. Other regions with an alarming number of cases include CALABARZON with 35,136 cases and 112 deaths; Northern Mindanao with 18,799 cases and 69 deaths; the Zamboanga Peninsula with 17,529 cases and 93 deaths; and Eastern Visayas with 17,107 cases and 52 deaths.

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    Dengue expected to spike during ‘ber’ months

    In previous years, dengue was considered a seasonal occurrence. However, cases are being reported every month of the year. “All year round meron tayong dengue,” said Dr. Carmina Delos Reyes, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at the Smart Parenting Convention in 2017.

    At the DOH Media Forum, Domingo says more cases are to be expected in the following months as dengue “peaks during the ‘ber’ months” or the rainy season.

    He is appealing to local officials to cooperate with health authorities in the fight against the mosquito-borne disease. “If a community is aggressive and active [in fighting dengue], it’s control of the spread of the disease is more efficient,” he said.

    He adds, “What we need is [for the effort] to go down to the barangay level. It also needs to be done daily. We understand that sometimes it may be tiring but the threat of dengue is continuous. We ask for a little more effort because as we can see there are still a lot of cases.”

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    Concerned parents getting Dengvaxia vaccine outside the country

    In light of the national dengue epidemic, the government expressed its openness to make the Dengvaxia vaccine available in the country again, if there is enough specific proof that it will be beneficial to the Filipino public. However, on August 22, the DOH denied the appeal of Sanofi Pasteur to lift the Dengvaxia ban in the country after it failed to submit documents that would prove the vaccine was safe and effective for public use.

    Because of the ban, worried parents have resorted to sending their kids to Southeast Asian countries like Singapore where the vaccine is available.  According to an Inquirer.net report, they spend more than Php9,800 for the test that checks if their child had a prior infection (and subsequently, a candidate for the vaccine) plus the first dose of the vaccine. Dengvaxia requires three doses.

    “We are now helping Filipinos who can afford it to get their dengue vaccines in Singapore,” Minguita Padilla, a co-convener for the Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare, told Inquirer.net. “Imagine that? But those who cannot afford to travel to Singapore are deprived of the choice and the chance of getting a vaccine that gives 93-percent protection.”

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    Protect your family against dengue

    According to a joint statement by the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), vaccination is not yet recommended as part of the response to the current outbreak.

    The vaccine “is for future protection for those who were diagnosed or have been known to have dengue or tested positive for dengue antibody,” said PPS President Dr. Salvacion Gatchalian. “With the availability of the vaccine, parents and patients will be informed of the benefits and risks, and an informed decision can be made and that its administration be an informed choice.”

    Both organizations emphasize the need to follow key strategies recommended by the DOH as these are still the most effective ways to prevent dengue.

    These strategies are summarized as the “4S against Dengue,” which are:

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    1. Search and destroy mosquito-breeding sites
    2. Secure self-protection measures like wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and daily use of mosquito
    3. repellent
    4. Seek early medical consultation upon observation of fever and rashes that persist for 48 hours
    5. Say no to indiscriminate fogging, which should only be implemented during outbreaks (spray only in hotspot areas)

    The DOH recommends fogging in areas where the number of cases has increased for two consecutive weeks. But they reiterate that the most effective way to control the spread of the dengue is cleanliness so that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the dengue virus, would not be able to breed.

    The dengue symptoms manifested by adults and older children differ from the symptoms of dengue in babies. Click here to learn the ones commonly seen in infants. For symptoms of children and adults, click here.

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