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Philippines: Dengue outbreak in some provinces

Next to malaria, dengue is an important tropical infectious disease which has claimed many lives in the Philippines. The Department of Health identified the dengue hotspots in the country: Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Central Visayas.

The government also issued an advisory on the symptoms of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever:

“Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever is an acute infectious viral disease usually affecting infants and young children. It is characterized by fever during the initial phase and other symptoms like headache, pain in the eye, joint pain, muscle pain, and other pain, followed by signs of bleeding such as petechiae (red tiny spots on the skin), nosebleeding and gumbleeding.”

While dengue cases continue to rise, the government claims the figure is lower compared to the previous year.

Parallel Universes complains about the “confusing conflicting dengue numbers” provided by the government’s health agency. The doctor-blogger also has important questions about the dengue situation in the country today:

“Does this indicate a serotype-shift in Dengue? Is it just an abnormally increased amount of rainfall this year contributing to more Aedes breeding grounds? Have people grown weary of cleaning their surroundings? Have community leaders been serious enough with their anti-dengue campaigns? How can we gauge the effectiveness of our anti-dengue measures? On the increased number of deaths from dengue this year, is it due to lack of facilities or medical expertise…or both?”

The dengue-express lanes in government hospitals was also discussed in the blog.

Inside PCIJ reports about the four simple steps devised by the government to fight dengue. A dengue vaccine is also being developed in Thailand, but the public has to wait another five years. The unreliability of official dengue data was also underscored:

“Official reports of dengue cases have been perceived to be inaccurate, according to a 2003 study for the International Vaccine Institute led by Denise de Roeck. The study focused on the views of policymakers on dengue fever in four Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines. Under-reporting and over-reporting were believed to occur, due to the lack of laboratory confirmation and the difficulty in diagnosing dengue.”

In another blog article of Inside PCIJ, the economic cost of dengue in the country was highlighted. Government is encouraged to undertake steps on how to save money from the dengue campaign. Fogging is discouraged but publicity-seeking politicians insist on adopting this method:

“Some Local Government Units continue to undertake unnecessary fogging. Fogging is a high-profile action, a way for politicians to garner publicity and reassure their constituents that they are fighting dengue, according to Dr. Eric Tayag, director of the National Epidemiology Center. Yet fogging is only effective in areas hit by an epidemic, where there are large numbers of adult mosquitoes.”

Midlife Mysteries questions the timing of government ads on dengue and also the official statistics on dengue cases. The 4-step campaign vs. dengue was also scrutinized. She also observes one dengue preventive measure in schools:

“Wearing of long-sleeve shirts and long pants and using mosquito repellants are a must during the daytime; Many private schools are already implementing this. Let's set aside those short pants and skirts and allow our children to come to school with their legs safely covered.”

She also gives advice on what plants and other organic materials to buy in the fight against dengue:

“Plant eucalyptus or neem trees in your garden, burn citronella candles or use Citromintin aromatherapy burners and keep your surroundings clean.”

Bulatlat explains the government system in classifying areas with dengue cases. Code Red means that for the past four months, there is an upsurge of dengue cases and was higher than what health officials expected. Code Yellow stands for minimal reports in the area.

More data on dengue can be found in Medindia.

2 comments

  • angie golez pascual

    are there some reliable date on wether the deaths due to dengue were intrinsically caused by the virus itself or the reaction to treatments such as the use of blood transfusion where rejection and allergic reaction are just some of the risks from contominated blood?

  • I experienced a mild case of dengue when I lived in Cebu a few years ago. Mine was from a mosquito bite as I used to go to school wearing a porontong type of shorts. Yes, I think it’s best to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts when there is an outbreak. It was scary but I lived.

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