Drop in dengue cases not only due to mosquito traps – Bukidnon health chief

VALENCIA CITY (MindaNews / 24 July) – The use of mosquito traps distributed by the Department of Science and Technology last year has helped in the reduction of dengue cases in Bukidnon. but contrary to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s claim in his state of the nation address, it was not the only factor that contributed to the positive result in the campaign against dengue, the provincial health officer said.

Dr. Teresita Damasco said in a telephone interview that the DOST’s ovicidal-larvicidal trap was only one of their many strategies to combat dengue. It was the community, she stressed, who played a major role in the control of dengue.

The President, in his 90-minute address Monday, said that the government tested the efficacy of mosquito traps in areas with the highest reported incidence of dengue.

In 2011, he said, mosquito traps were distributed in Bukidnon, a province with recorded 1,216 cases of dengue in 2010. After distribution, the number of cases decreased to 37, a 97-percent reduction rate from 2010 to 2011, the President stressed.

“I told you about our anti-dengue mosquito traps. It is too early to claim total victory, our scientists are rigorous about testing, but the initial results have been very encouraging,” he said.

Damasco cited the barangay dengue brigades in each LGU, which scoured neighborhood corners for stagnant water in tires, open bottles, flower vases, ponds, and even plants that are potential sites for mosquitoes to lay eggs. They also ask neighborhoods to clean surroundings and follow the 4S strategy.

From 2011 to 2012, however, the province’s dengue cases increased.

Damasco reported to the Bukidnon provincial board earlier this month that Bukidnon had a total of 42 dengue cases in 2011 with no deaths. From January to July 2012 so far, there were already 137 cases dengue and 7 deaths.

Damasco said the province has adopted the “4S strategy,” which she presented to the provincial board earlier as an effective tool against dengue. This approach involves search and destroy possible breeding places of dengue-causing mosquitoes; self-protection measures include wearing long sleeves or long pants; seek early consultation because dengue is crucial; and say no to indiscriminate fogging, which is considered as a temporary solution against dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

The President also cited in his SONA that in the towns of Ballesteros and Claveria in Cagayan, there were 228 cases of dengue in 2010, and only 8 cases were recorded the next year. In Catarman, Northern Samar, 434 cases of dengue were reported in 2010, and only 4 in 2011.

Aquino cited his administration’s efforts to ensure that the preventable illnesses are avoided along with the desire for “true, universal, and holistic health care.”

He admitted that the project is still “in its initial stages” but lauded Health Secretary Enrique Ona Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo and asked them to engage into “even more intensive research and collaboration.”

Damasco admitted that the traps helped but many contributing factors caused the decline of dengue cases, she added.

She said it was a concerted effort from government agencies, communities, private agencies, and non-government organizations. The hospitals were ready for the cases, too, she said. Damasco said the Provincial Health Office also did intensive bloodletting activities, stored blood in the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center and Bukidnon Provincial Hospital in Maramag in case patients needed blood.

In August 2011, Dr. Josephine Ibalio, dengue coordinator of the Department of Health in the province, told this reporter that the mosquito traps developed by the DOST to help arrest dengue cases showed promise as there were no reported cases in five test areas in Bukidnon.

The traps and accessories provided by the DOST were tested in five areas identified to have high dengue cases in 2010 – Suna Village in Sumpong, and Kubayan and NHA 1 in Casisang, Malaybalay City; a purok in Poblacion Quezon; Vizmin Area, Poblacion Pangantucan; and Artajo Village in Alae, Manolo Fortich.

Ibalio said then that the traps were effective in attracting dengue mosquitoes to lay eggs in a lawanit paddle dipped in black canisters filled with water and DOST formulated mosquito pellets.

As of July 13, 2011, the DOH reported only 36 cases of dengue in all of Bukidnon. The City Health Office of Malaybalay cited eight cases as of August 10.

Ibalio noted the drastic decline in cases for this year, considering 1,087 cases and 16 deaths in 2010.

She added they distributed black canisters and accessories to 100 selected households in the test sites.

Generally, Ibalio said, they succeeded in attracting the adult mosquitoes to lay eggs in the canisters.

But in that interview, she stopped short of making any recommendation for mass distribution of the traps in areas like Bukidnon until the end of the six-month trial in the test sites.

She cited some case where the tests did not attract enough number of adult mosquitoes.

“This is good but this should not be the only solution,” Ibalio said then. She added there might be additional measures to be emphasized in areas surrounded by forests, plantations, water holes and others.

She added that cleanliness is still of primary importance and people must continue search and destroy operations against mosquito breeding sites. “If they can afford to put screen in their houses, it’s good,” she. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)