GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/02 July) — Health authorities in South Cotabato province have declared an outbreak of the mosquito-borne chikungunya disease in two villages in Tampakan town as the suspected cases in the area already reached 180 as of Tuesday.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, South Cotabato health officer, said the confirmatory tests are currently ongoing for residents of Maltana and Kipalbig towns in Tampakan who have shown some symptoms of the viral disease based on the epidemiological surveys conducted by local health and sanitation personnel.
“We have not yet contained the disease and, so far, more suspected cases are being reported,” he said in a radio interview.
Two weeks ago, the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) reported the detection of two chikungunya cases in Barangay Kipalbig in Tampakan based on the results of confirmatory tests conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.
Aturdido said the two chikungunya cases, which were detected for the first time in the province, were found in two of the four blood samples that they sent to the RITM.
He said the samples were taken from residents of Barangay Kipalbig who had exhibited some symptoms of the disease.
Chikungunya is a viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes that cause severe fever and joint pains. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache and nausea.
Victims could suffer from polyarthralgia or multiple joint pains for five to six months and as long as two years, depending on their age.
“The manifestation is the same with dengue disease because the vector is the same mosquito that causes dengue,” said Aturdido, referring to the virus-carrying Aedes mosquito.
Cecil Lorenzo, South Cotabato disease surveillance officer, said they initially received the report about the possible chikungunya in Tampakan town in first week of June.
She said that their initial assessment showed that the chikungunya-carrying mosquitoes could have been thriving in the area’s banana plantations, where the patients are employed.
The IPHO and the Tampakan Municipal Health Office are presently monitoring the areas that were affected by the disease.
Local sanitation workers have been conducting site inspections as well as information and education campaigns among local residents regarding chikungunya, especially on how to contain or control the spread of the disease.
Dr. Washington Loreno, Tampakan health officer, said they are working closely with the barangay councils of the affected villages to manage the disease incidence in the area.
He said they have been conducting regular cleanup activities in various communities in Tampakan to control the further spread of the chikungunya-carrying mosquitoes. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)