Dengue cases on the rise - alarming numbers in Cebu, Cordillera, Gen San

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Health officials continue to appeal to the public to employ preventive measures to curb the steady rise in cases of dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.

The Department of Health (DOH) continues to appeal to the public to adopt preventive measures in a bid to curb the alarming rise in dengue cases in several areas of the country.

In the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), there was an 88% increase of dengue cases in the first two months of 2016 as compared to the same period last year.

In a report by Aldwin Quitasol of Interaksyon, Dr. Alexie Marrero, regional head of the office on Infectious Disease Cluster of the DOH, revealed that there have been 173 dengue cases in Baguio City so far, while Benguet registered 158 cases.

In January, a report by Joseph Jubelag on Manila Bulletin stated that a dengue outbreak was also declared in General Santos City after 54 new dengue cases and two deaths were reported in just the first two weeks of 2016. According to Dr. Mely Lastimoso, head of the City Integrated Health Services Office's (CIHSO) Social Hygiene Clinic, this is a 390% increase from the 11 dengue cases reported during the same period last year.

In a recent report by Justin K. Vestil of Sunstar Cebu, the DOH said there has been a 45% increase in dengue cases in Central Visayas from January to February this year compared to the same period last year.

From January 1 to February 13, a total of 1,527 dengue cases and 13 dengue-related fatalities were recorded in Central Visayas, revealed the DOH 7’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU). Most of the patients were children between the ages of six to ten years old.

Read: Dengue fever in children

In 2015, the region recorded 1,053 dengue cases, 4 of which resulted in death.

According to DOH, Cebu has the highest number of dengue cases in the region so far, with 165 cases and one death.

Cebu is closely followed by Mandaue with 89 cases—a significant spike from the 28 cases reported during the same period last year.

Prevention is key

“The first step to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is within our homes. We should not only remember the information being delivered by DOH to the communities. Instead, let us make it a practice and instill cleanliness in our surroundings. It is not only your family that will benefit from this habit, but the entire community as well.” Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin said.

Read: Surviving Dengue: how to protect your kids from mosquitoes

The DOH is appealing to the public to practice the 4S method: Search & destroy mosquito breeding places, use Self-protection measures, Seek early consultation for fever lasting more than 2 days, and Say yes to fogging when there is an impending outbreak.

The country’s health sector is not just bracing itself for the onslaught of increasing dengue cases, which is expected to intensify come rainy season. Health officials are also on high alert for other mosquito-borne diseases, such as the Zika virus and Japanese Encephalitis.

Read: The Philippines is preparing for the Zika virus-DOH

Symptoms of Zika virus include fever, rashes, joint pains, muscle pain, headache, vomiting, and conjunctivitis. According to the DOH, the illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting between 2-7 days. The virus poses the greatest threat to pregnant women as it seems to cause microcephaly in infants whose mothers were infected with the virus. Microcephaly is a condition whereby a baby is born with an abnormally small head.

Initial symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis include fever, headache, diarrhea, and muscle pain. Severe cases of this mosquito-borne disease can exhibit seizures, neurological problems, movement disorders, and even death.

Dengue and Japanese encephalitis are now preventable through vaccination.  However, there is currently no vaccine against Zika.

Read: World's first Dengue vaccine launched in the Philippines

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