We have been so focused on wearing a mask, washing our hands, keeping a social distance to prevent the spread of Covid. Many may have forgotten the other guidelines that should be followed at about this time of the year when the rains – and the mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus –come.
In the past weeks, the alarm over the rising cases of dengue around the country has been sounded by the Department of Health (DOH). From January to July 2, 2022, DOH recorded 65,190 dengue cases and 274 deaths. The more serious number though is that the 65,190 cases is an 83 percent increase from the dengue cases in the same period of 2021, which is 35,715.
Last July 12, the province of Antique declared a state of calamity due to dengue which was reported in all of its 18 municipalities, with a total of 1,575 cases, and six deaths from January to July 9. Again, the serious part of the record is that the number of cases is 556 percent higher than last year’s, only 241 cases, with two deaths.
Dengue, a mosquito-borne viral disease endemic in the Philippines, is a familiar term among Filipinos. It is discussed in schools, work places, churches, and homes, especially at the onset of the rainy season.
Perhaps because of living amid a pandemic, people have been more dedicated to following the health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of Covid. Programs to prevent dengue should be more eagerly initiated and implemented to get more support in the barangay level. Community effort to conduct regular clean-up activities in each neighborhood, for example, can do much to prevent the breeding of the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.
For example, is the 4 o’clock habit, which is part of a DOH campaign, still practiced? That’s the cleaning of one’s surroundings every 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Do households still put mosquito repellent gadgets or substances outside their house to keep the mosquitoes away?
The rules come under DOH’s Enhanced 4-S program which outlines what each person can do to keep the dengue cases down. 4-S stands for “Search and destroy mosquito-breeding sites; “Secure self-protection measures (like wearing long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are); Seek early consultation, and Support fogging or spraying in hotspot areas.”
Here are a few reminders about dengue: It is transmitted by the female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes which bite during the daytime – about two hours after sunrise, and two hours before sunset. If bitten, one will experience the following symptoms: sudden onset of fever which can go on for two to seven days. It comes with two of the following discomfort: headache, body weakness, joint and muscle pains, pain behind the eyes, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin rashes, the DOH advisory said. Dengue fever can progress to a more severe form known as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) which can be fatal if it is not recognized and treated promptly.
Today, Sunday, take a walk outside your house to check on the presence of containers which may contain stagnant water. Clean your surroundings. Cover your arms and legs. Check if your barangay has scheduled a fogging operation.