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Dengue swells, EV-71 scares

The Department of Health (DOH) pressed on Wednesday (July 18) for dengue express lanes in both private and public hospitals in the country, amid rising cases of dengue.

In a dzBB interview, Dr. Eric Tayag, DOH assistant secretary and spokesperson, said establishing these lanes can help bring about speedy treatment of dengue –stricken patients.

Dengue cases this year have swelled to 13.85 percent, higher than last year’s figures. Figures indicated that 46,651 dengue cases have been recorded nationwide from January 1 to July 7, 2012, with 294 deaths, as opposed to 40, 975 cases, with 269 deaths in 2011.

The highest number of cases has been recorded at 10,775 in the National Capital Region (NCR); 7,024 in Region III or Central Luzon, and 6,219 in Region IV-A (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon provinces) or CALABARZON. In the NCR, majority of dengue cases came from Manila, Quezon City, and Caloocan City.

The DOH has also launched last June 15 an information technology system that makes it easy for hospitals and health units in rural areas to report dengue cases in real time. First system test was given in San Fernando, Pampanga where they have recorded the highest number of dengue cases in 2011.

Symptoms, Precautions, and Preventions

Tayag said the public should constantly adhere to the anti-dengue campaign through its 4S:

a. Search and destroy to eliminate all the possible breeding sites of the mosquito that carries the dengue virus (empty soft drink bottles, bamboo husks, old tires, and flower vases.)

b. Self protection or measures to protect people from mosquito bites

c. Seek early treatment

d. Say no to indiscriminate fogging

“Kailangang intindihin (na) ang pinagmulan ng lamok (maaaring) ang sariling tahanan,” Tayag was quoted saying.

Dengue symptoms, such as two to seven days of high and continuous fever, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, bleeding from the nose and gums, weakness of the body, and lasting red spots or rashes on the face, extremities, and trunks should already require immediate medical attention, according to DOH.

Tayag also informed the public that PhilHealth now offers a “No Balance Bill” scheme for the marginal poor in the country, so they won’t have to worry of hospital expenses.

Meanwhile, several news reports have revealed that a scientist in Pangasinan promotes a small tropical fish or mosquito fish (bombosia assinis) to fight the deadly dengue virus. Said fish feeds on larvae of mosquitoes in stagnant water.

According to Dr. Westly Rosario, the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development (NIFTDC) chief in Dagupan, the mosquito fish was used in conquering malaria in the 1920s to 1950s. The fish, more known as itar, milyon, or kataba, is said to be found anywhere in the country.

Rosario said it may be time to send the mosquito fish back to stagnant water to feed on eggs of mosquitoes. Currently, they are collecting mosquito fish to send to schools, as well as canals and ponds nearby, to eat the mosquito larvae.

In Central Luzon, an anti-dengue summit among governors and mayors will be held on July 30-31, 2012. According to DOH regional director Dr. Leonita Gorgolon, said summit will concentrate on destroying the source of aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries the deadly virus.

DOH has referred to dengue as a year-round health threat, and no longer just a rainy-season disease.

Besides dengue, the DOH has reported that one local case of the Enterovirus 71 (EV-71), the same virus that has led to deaths of 60 children in Cambodia this year, was also recorded in the country recently.

A 19-month-old baby boy from Davao was said to have been infected with a mild form of EV-71, but the boy has recovered, according to news reports.

Malacanang, however, assured last Saturday, July 21, that the DOH is prepared to handle the new case.

In a radio interview over dzRB, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda appealed for the participation of the public. “If you feel that there are symptoms that would lead to Enterovirus 71, immediately bring it to the attention of the doctors,” he said.

Lacierda also said in a press briefing in Malacanang that they have implemented a stricter procedure in screening passengers at all international points of entry in the country. “We are monitoring any possible entrance of enterovirus through people coming from abroad. So we are making sure that this is being addressed and so far wala pa naman tayong incident of enterovirus coming from abroad,” he said.

All hospitals were also alerted by DOH secretary Dr. Enrique Ona to make sure that there is timely reporting of possible cases or outbreaks of EV-71, Lacierda said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, the EV-71 is said to be composed of 68 stereotypes causing self-limited infections among children.