Dengue spikes in Central Visayas

By Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY — In a little over a month, the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas has recorded more than 2,000 cases of dengue.

From Jan. 1 to Feb. 2 this year, there were 2,132 dengue cases recorded and DOH is expecting the figures to further climb.

An Aedes aegypti mosquito (Flcikr / Oregon State University / MANILA BULLETIN) An Aedes aegypti mosquito
(Flcikr / Oregon State University / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The number of dengue cases for the first two months and first week of February are very, very high because that’s 154 percent higher than the previ­ous year. Comparing the same periods this year and last year, dengue cases more than doubled and we are expect­ing more,” said Dr. Jarvick Buscato, dengue program coordinator of the regional DOH office.

In January, 14 persons died from dengue, and there are already four deaths in February, Buscato said.

2019 is considered an epidemic year since dengue cases in the country rise every three years.

“We call it an epidemic year but this is just arbitrary because this is not happening in other countries. This three-year pattern has been seen in the Philippines since 2009,” Buscato said.

DOH is still studying why dengue cases rise every three years. “We are still trying to figure out why this pattern is happening. It could be attributed to the behavior of the mosquitoes or the virulence of the virus. There could be other factors. We have seen the signs, we have seen the change of the pattern in the behavior of the vector but we have not proven it scientifically,” he said.

Buscato said dengue figures are particularly high in the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue.

From Jan. 1 to Feb. 2 last year, there were only 74 cases in Lapu-Lapu but this year, 264 cases have already been recorded.

A 100-percent increase was also noted in Mandaue, from 59 cases in 2018 to 119 this year.

Historically, the most dengue cases were recorded in Region 7 where there were 26,000 cases and 253 deaths in 2016.

With the numbers rising, Bus­cato recommended that the campaign against dengue be intensified.

“I know our local government units have been doing massive campaigns but probably our clean-up drives and search and destroy activities have missed out certain households or areas. Probably our vector control methods were not enough or there must be something wrong with the methods because we are also entertaining in­secticide resistance. But so far, based on our study in Region 7, mosquitoes are still sensitive to the chemicals that we are using,” he said.

“I hope the public will cooperate be­cause this is now a behavioral problem. The public has to cooperate because you don’t expect health center workers to clean every household or go around each community every month to con­duct clean-up drives,” said Buscato.

The best way to avoid dengue is to eliminate breeding sites, he said.

“Mosquitoes carrying dengue only need five millimeters of water for them to lay eggs that’s why we should make sure that there is no breeding site in every household,” Buscato said.