Mosquito-borne ‘chikungunya’ now under control – Sarangani health officials

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 Jan) – Health authorities in Sarangani province have declared the recent occurrence of the mosquito-borne chikungunya disease in two of its municipalities as under control even as it continues to monitor other possible cases in several communities in the area.

Dr. Arvin Alejandro, Sarangani assistant provincial health officer, said Wednesday they have not monitored new cases of the critical viral disease in parts of Kiamba town where it initially emerged last month.

At least 12 of the initial 39 suspected chikungunya cases that came out in the area have earlier turned out positive based on results of laboratory analysis on blood samples submitted by the Sarangani health office to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

The provincial epidemiology and surveillance unit said the confirmed chikungunya cases came from communities situated within the boundaries of Kiamba and Maitum towns.

“We have so far controlled it in the sense that no new cases have emerged recently in areas where it was first monitored,” Alejandro said in an interview with a local television station.

But the health official said they are continuously monitoring several communities in the two municipalities due to other possible cases of the disease.

He cited communities in Barangay Tablao in Kiamba, specifically those situated near the Pangi River.

The Sarangani health office sent to the RITM additional blood samples of residents from the area who had exhibited suspected symptoms of chikungunya, he said.

A fact sheet released by the World Health Organization described chikungunya as a viral disease that is spread mainly by Aedes mosquitoes, which are known carriers of the deadly dengue virus.

The disease, which is not usually fatal and mostly affects adults, shares some clinical signs with dengue such as fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

The Department of Health (DOH) had reported recent outbreaks of chikungunya in Albay province and in the regions of Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, Northern Min-danao, Davao and Caraga.

In Sarangani, Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez said the disease first emerged sometime last month with around 30 initial cases.

“We immediately sent the blood samples to the DOH and (some of them) turned out positive,” the governor said.

Based on information they gathered regarding the disease, Dominguez said the areas considered susceptible to the spread of the chikungunya were communities or villages that have high cases of the malaria disease.

The governor said they have activated the health workers in the affected areas to conduct massive information and awareness drives among residents.

He said they directed the barangay councils to lead regular cleanup activities, focusing on the elimination of possible breeding places of mosquitoes that were carrying the disease.

“There’s no known cure yet for this disease and the most effective way to handle it is like how we treat dengue and malaria,” Dominguez said.

Alejandro said that since the chikungunya virus is carried or spread by the Aedes mosquito, there’s a possibility that it could spread to other areas, especially those in key urban centers, later on.

Although not considered deadly as compared to dengue, he said residents should watch out for its complications.

“The joint pains could become severe or just turn out mild but they could last for several months,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)