Dengue cases in R-11 up 49%

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 July) – Dengue cases in the region have increased by 49 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2009, local health officials said Friday.

But health officials would not say if there is already an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease in the region.

In a news conference here, Ana Remolar, chief of the Information Division of the Department of Health Region 11, disclosed that they have recorded 2,607 cases of dengue from provinces of Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley from January to June.

In January to June 2009, the health department recorded 1,748 dengue cases, said Remolar.

The figure was based on records from 10 sentinel hospitals in the region six of which are in this city. Sentinel hospitals are those having diagnostic capabilities and at least 250 beds.

In this city alone, Remolar reported that 1,792 dengue cases have been recorded compared to 1,400 cases last year. However, the figure does not include the patients coming from other regions but taken to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).

It was reported that there were already 2,389 cases as of July 12.

The SPMC, formerly the Davao Medical Center, reported that 38 dengue patients had died, 35 of them children.

“This could be blamed on this rainy season but this may not matter if the people would only maintain cleanliness in their surroundings,” Remolar said in a separate interview, adding the figure is still on the alert level and could not be considered an outbreak already.

There is no reason yet to declare an outbreak since the figures vary every week, she said.

She noted that in January and June the number of cases reached the alert level with 498 and 477 infections, respectively. But the figure went down to 251 in April, she said.

There were only 279 cases in January 2009, the official said.

Mary Divine Hilario, City Health Department (CHD)-Southern Mindanao Officer for Health Education and Promotion, said they are now conducting short-term interventions such as fogging and distribution of chemical-laced mosquito nets.

The City Health Department has earlier identified Buhangin, Talomo, Agdao, and Bunawan Districts as high-risk areas of dengue.

The records also showed that 20 persons already died due to dengue this year compared to 17 during the same period last year.

According to the health department, there were six fatalities in this city and another six in Davao del Norte, five in Davao del Sur, two in Davao Oriental and one in Compostela Valley.

But based on the records from other non-sentinel hospitals in Davao del Sur obtained by the DOH, eight persons in Digos City, two in Bansalan and one in Malalag had succumbed to dengue.

Meanwhile, Dr. Joanne Lobo of Pedia Infectious Diseases Department of the SPMC advised parents to have their children checked up at the nearest clinic or hospital if they show symptoms like vomiting and fever for over 24 hours already.

Lobo also dismissed claims that an herb called “tawa-tawa” (Euphorbia pilulifera) is an effective cure for dengue.

“It is not yet established that tawa-tawa can help cure dengue,” she told reporters. (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)