A total of 491 deaths have occurred due to dengue this 2019, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday, July 20.
The announcement comes just a few days after the department declared a National Dengue Alert, with the figures based on DOH monitoring from June 30 to July 6. An additional 5,744 cases were also reported, bringing the total of dengue-related cases in the country to 115,986, according to Inquirer.net.
Western Visayas, which has exceeded the epidemic threshold, recorded the most cases at 15,826, followed by CALABARZON with 12,780 cases. The latter is closely being monitored after having exceeded the alert threshold.
The current death toll is higher than the 336 deaths recorded during the same period last year. The DOH says the most affected age group are children ages five to nine years old, which accounts for 23% of the total cases, followed by children ages 10 to 14, with 19% of the total cases.
In a press conference held a few days ago, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III 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 mosquito-borne viral infection caused by female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. “Dengue is a viral disease with no known vaccine or specific antivirals,” Duque said.
Those infected may experience no dengue 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.
Pediatrician Dr. Carmina Delos Reyes says it is important for parents to watch out for the following sign to identify the mosquito-related disease. “We think of dengue fever if the child has high fever. Pabalik-balik yung lagnat na mataas every four to six hours,” she says in a previous article for SmartParenting.com.ph.
More importantly, she says there is also “no identifying source of infection. So walang ubo. Hindi naglalabas ng plema. Hindi masakit ang pag-ihi at walang UTI (urinary tract infection).”
On their Facebook page, the DOH has been posting various reminders on how to prevent dengue. This includes using a mosquito repellent (check out the most effective ones for your children here), putting screens on windows and doors, wearing long sleeves and pants when going outside, and using a kulambo during bed time to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
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Be wary of using coconut oil to prevent dengue. While it has many benefits, preventing dengue is not one of them, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), International Vaccine Institute, and the University of the Philippines’ National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) in an AFP report.
If you suspect your child has dengue fever, don’t wait for serious symptoms to appear, advises Dr. Delos Reyes. If you observe anything unusual with your child, seek medical consultation.