42 deaths from flu-like disease in R-12 in 2012

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 January) — The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 has recorded a total of 42 deaths last year due to influenza-like illnesses as it noted a slight increase in disease incidence in the area.
Dr. Alah Baby Vingno, DOH-12 regional epidemiologist, said at least 15,889 residents in the region were downed by various types of viral influenza-like illness in 2012, or an increase of seven cases from the previous year.
But she noted in a report released by DOH-12’s regional epidemiology and surveillance unit that there were only eight deaths from such ailment in 2011.
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Vingno said this city posted the most number of cases in 2012 with 4,864 or up by 656 from the 4,208 cases recorded in 2011.
The number of deaths in the area due to the disease increased to 24 last year from just four cases in the previous year, she said.
The City Integrated Health Services Offices (CIHSO) earlier noted an increasing number of influenza or flu-like infections in the city last year, especially during the rainy periods.
Dr. Edgardo Sandig, CIHSO chief, said among the disease’s symptoms was fever, headache and upper respiratory tract infection.
The DOH-12 report cited that South Cotabato posted 2,614 cases followed by Sultan Kudarat with 2,348; North Cotabato with 2,036; Cotabato City with 2,028; and, Sarangani with 1,999.
The disease monitoring and surveillance specifically covered 50 weeks last year or from January 1 to December 15.
It said 11 related deaths were recorded in Sarangani, two each in South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Cotabato City, and, one in Sultan Kudarat.
The disease incidence dropped by 10 to 36 percent in South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Sarangani but increased by 16 to 119 percent in this city, Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat.
A total of 10,481 cases or 66 percent affected children aged 10 years-old and exceeded the epidemic threshold during the third week of October and the last week of November until early December.
Based on results of the laboratory-based influenza surveillance conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on some of the blood samples that they submitted, Vingno said five percent turned out positive of Influenza A infection but the viral subtype has yet to be known.
She said three percent each were positive of ParaInfluenza 1 and Enterovirus; two percent with Adenovirus and ParaInfluenza 3; 0.7 percent with Herpes simplex virus 1 subtype of Influenza A; and; 0.07 percent of a pending subtype of Influenza B.
The official said 97 percent of the samples had turned out negative while they were still waiting for the results of around 27 percent of them. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)