DOH expects dengue to linger until September

By Analou de Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) said that it was expecting that the increasing number of dengue cases in the country will mostly likely prevail until September.

Students of Ramon Magsaysay receive vaccine shots from medical personnels during the DOH School-based immunization program led by DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno at Manila on Tuesday. Photo by Jansen Romero/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO  MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO

"It is expected to be here until September, and usually start to wane after October, once the rainy season starts to go," said Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo.

Domingo said that it is during the rainy season that mosquitoes thrive.

"It's definitely the water, especially now that we're having rains. It rains today and will stop a couple of days so we have stagnant water there. Two to three days is enough for the life cycle of the mosquitoes. So, if the water is there for two to three days, it is enough to generate more mosquitoes," explained Domingo.

On Tuesday, the health department declared a national dengue epidemic after recording 146,062 dengue cases, including 622 deaths, from January to July 20.

The DOH has also called on other government agencies, local government units, schools, offices, and communities to conduct the “Sabayang 4-O’clock Habit para Deng-Get Out”, which focuses on the search and destruction of mosquito breeding sites.

Read more: DOH encourages ‘4’oclock’ habit to prevent dengue

“The main strategy is to make sure that we remove the vector which is the mosquito. We have to work together to make sure that the cleanliness is there…,” said Domingo.

The health official also noted that the rising number of the mosquito-borne illness was also being experienced by other countries.

“Dengue follows this pattern when if you have low years, like usually two years and then the third year it spikes, it's a global phenomenon. We checked our data from the WHO (World Health Organization) and we've seen that we have 200 300 percent increases in neighboring countries,” he said.

“It is really something that is happening worldwide right now. It's not localized to the Philippines,” he added.

Domingo also urged the public to seek early consultation if they experience symptoms of dengue.

“Our hospitals are ready. We are asking everybody that if you have any suspicion that a child might have dengue, meaning fever of two to three days, we need to come in early so they can be tested and we can see if they need hospitalization or if they can be sent home,” he said.

“Early treatment and management is also key to make sure if a kid has dengue that they will survive the illness,” he added.

Aside from fever, other symptoms of dengue include severe headache, pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and skin rashes.

Meanwhile, amid calls to bring back the controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, Domingo said that it should not be looked at as a possible solution to the epidemic.

“Definitely, it is not for epidemic. It is not an epidemic response vaccine,” he said.

“You cannot give it to the general public to protect them because you need to have a test to show that they have had dengue before and that test just does not exist,” he added.