ILOILO – The death toll due to dengue hemorrhagic fever has doubled and the cases continue to increase significantly causing alarming remark from health officials that the trend might reach epidemic threshold if left unresolved.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Patricia Grace Trabado revealed that the recorded dengue cases from January 1 to July 23, 2016 have reached the alert threshold.
Alert threshold refers to the level of occurrence of disease that serves as an early warning for epidemics.
“There is an impending dengue outbreak that we must prevent from happening again,” stressed Trabado during the Dengue Summit held in Casa Real de Iloilo on August 2.
The first dengue outbreak in Iloilo was in 1998. The second occurred 12 years after wherein cases rose by 512% from 1,061 with 18 deaths in 2009 to 6,500 with 32 deaths in 2010.
Five years have passed and another spike in the recorded dengue cases was detected as of the 29th morbidity week, according to the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU).
As of July 23, the sum of the cases recorded in 43 local government units increased by 196% (2,179 cases with eight deaths) compared to cases on the same period in 2015 (737 cases with four deaths).
The figure was also 159% higher compared to cases recorded on the same period in 2014 (842 cases with seven deaths).
“I am alarmed by the rising cases of dengue. We should address this public health problem immediately,” Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. urged the municipal mayors present during the Dengue Summit.
All is at risk
“The incidence of dengue has grown dramatically and people of all ages, regardless of status in life, are at risk,” stressed Trabado.
Based on the recorded dengue cases this year, the median age bracket affected by dengue was from one to ten years old (883 cases; 449 of which were female).
It was then followed by people aging from 11 to 20 years old (849 cases; 476 of which were male) and 21 to 30 years old (223 cases; 121 of which were male).
An eight-year-old Grade 3 pupil in Anilao was the first patient who died of dengue in Iloilo on January 7.
Grade 1 (six-year-old) and Grade 2 (seven-year-old) pupils from Igbaras and Sta. Barbara added to the list of fatalities on March 23 and 28, respectively.
So far, a 30-year-old male from Concepcion was the oldest patient to die of dengue on May 14, while the youngest was a four-year-old girl in Alimodian on June 27.
On June 9, Calinog, the town with the most number of dengue cases at 191, registered its first fatality – a ten-year-old Grade 5 pupil.
The other two fatalities, who were both six years old females, were recorded in Maasin on July 22 and Sta. Barbara on July 18.
Defensor appealed to the public that if they have high fever (40°C/ 104°F) they must not hesitate to bring themselves to the nearest district hospitals where suspected dengue cases were treated for free.
“If any of the 12 district hospitals will demand for payment during your confinement, report it to me immediately. If you don’t have any medical insurance and you are an indigent, we will enroll you to PhilHealth’s Point of Care Program,” he said.
Early detection and treatment of suspected dengue cases will help prevent the rising death toll, according to Dr. Glenn Alonsabe, chief epidemiologist of the Department of Health Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit in Western Visayas.
Search and Destroy Protocol
Instead of spreading their selves too thin, Alonsabe advised that the strategies on search and destroy of mosquito breeding grounds must be targeted first in barangays with clustering of cases and in schools where the affected population could be found most of the time.
The top ten towns with the most number of dengue cases were Calinog (192 with 1 death), Sta. Barbara (152 with 2 deaths), Sara (131 cases), Passi City (109 cases), Pototan (101 cases), Estancia (92 cases), Oton (92 cases), Miagao (91 cases), Pavia (84 cases), Cabatuan (79 cases).
Meanwhile, Trabado also recommended that the Action Barangay Kontra Dengue (ABKD) has to be reorganized, reactivate or organized in every barangay to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate the status of dengue transmission in their locality.
She also encouraged the mayors to dedicate one day in a week for the municipal-wide search and destroy activity known as “People Power: Do Day Kontra Dengue”, especially in schools.