The Department of Health (DOH) declared a National Dengue Alert on Monday, July 15, 2019, due to the rapidly increasing number of cases observed in several regions in the Philippines.
According to Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, from January 1 to June 29 this year, a total of 106,630 dengue cases have been reported in the country. This is 85% higher compared to the same period in 2018, which reported only 57,564 cases. 456 deaths have also been recorded, the majority of whom are kids ages 5 to 9 years old, according to CNN Philippines.
“This is the first time that we’re declaring a national alert. Because the objective is very clear. We want to raise awareness among the public and more importantly, in communities where signs of early dengue increases are evident,” Duque said in a press conference, according to Inquirer.net.
While Duque assured the public that there is no national dengue epidemic, some regions in the country have already exceeded the epidemic threshold. This includes MIMAROPA (Region IV-B), Western Visayas (Region VI), Central Visayas (Region VII), and Northern Mindanao (Region X).
Meanwhile, the following regions are being monitored after having exceeded the alert threshold: Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Cordillera Administrative Region.
In light of the National Dengue Alert, a code blue alert has also been activated in areas that need monitoring. This means that 50 percent of all hospital staff are required to report for duty to render medical and other services to help contain the disease. This will be in coordination with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).
Duque explained that dengue cases have been observed to peak every three to four years. The last peak occurred in 2016. Given this pattern, the DOH expects a significant increase in cases this year.
Dengue is a disease transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific antibiotics that can cure it. The DOH reminds parents that effective surveillance can also help in reducing cases and deaths if areas with clustering of cases are identified early.
Those who have dengue may experience no symptoms, a mild case of dengue fever, or a severe form called dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can cause “severe bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure (shock) and death,” according to Mayo Clinic.
Other dengue symptoms include:
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sudden recurring high fever
pain around the eyes
bleeding of the gums and nose
severe abdominal pain
If you suspect your child has dengue fever, don’t wait for serious symptoms to appear. Take your child to the hospital immediately. Dr. Salvacion R. Gatchalian, president of the Philippine Pediatric Society, stresses that the first two days after the fever are the most crucial. Doctors closely monitor children after a high fever passes to diagnose or dismiss dengue. (Click here for more dengue symptoms and treatment.)