DOH downgrades fogging against dengue

Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, DOH regional director, told MindaNews employing fogging alone is no longer advisable because it is not a good health practice.

The DOH reported earlier this month the number of dengue cases in Southern Mindanao rose by 22 percent so far this year. The DOH's Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit revealed that from January to May this year the number of cases was at 1,017.

Most of these cases, according to the DOH, are from Davao City, numbering 700 or 69 percent.

Ubial said, however, that due to a declining rainfall and increasing public awareness, the figures have started to decline since June. She could not give the numbers as of press time.

Ubial lamented that local government units in the region find fumigation a convenient way to kill mosquito sites, saying it could be a high profile activity that is not really effective.

While mosquitoes may disappear after fogging operations, these will just come back later when the larvae mature.

The best method, according to the DOH, is still cleanliness to eliminate breeding grounds of the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito.

The DOH promotes four strategies to fight dengue around the country — 1) search and destroy mosquito breeding sites, 2) self protection measures like using mosquito nets, 3) seeking early treatment, and 4) no indiscriminate fogging.

Fogging, she said in an interview with MindaNews Wednesday, should be done only in highly concentrated cases, like during an outbreak.

Ubial said massive information drive in schools and communities backed by the media and the organized teams doing search and destroy operations will work in the campaign to educate the public.

Arsenio Pagnanawon, pest control worker at the Davao City Health Office, however, clarified that fogging is ineffective only if not coupled with cleanliness.

Pagnanawon, who had been running fogging operations at the CHO in the last 15 years, told MindaNews in a telephone interview cleanliness eliminates "kiti-kiti" (mosquito larvae) while fogging does it to adult mosquitoes.

"It is useless to kill the adults but allow the larvae to thrive," he said.

He said, however, that the pesticide Resigen is hazardous to asthma patients. They thus ask patients in the operation sites to keep distance to avoid irritation.

He admitted that in many LGUs, politicians rush to fumigate because it is a government action very visible to the public. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)