Chikungunya on the rise in South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 31 January) — Health personnel in South Cotabato alerted anew residents over the increasing cases of the mosquito-borne chikungunya disease.

Jose Baroquillo, mosquito-borne diseases coordinator of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), said Thursday they monitored the resurgence of suspected chikungunya cases in the past several weeks in Tampakan town.

Citing a report from the Tampakan Municipal Health Office (MHO), he said the infections were reported in portions of Barangay Maltana, which was also hit by an outbreak in 2014.

The municipal government of Tampakan has so far reported at least 40 suspected chikungunya cases in Puroks 3, 4 and 7 of Maltana.

He said most of the cases were recorded in communities near banana plantations, where suspected breeding places of the chikungunya-carrying mosquitoes were previously found.

“The MHO already conducted misting and fogging operations in the affected areas to contain the disease and prevent it from spreading to other areas,” he said in a briefing.

Baroquillo said the chikungunya virus mainly spreads through mosquito bites and the most common symptoms are fever, headache, muscle pain and joint pain.

He said the management of the infection is similar to dengue but it is not as severe due to the absence of bleeding symptoms.

Cecille Lorenzo, IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit head, said all 10 municipalities and lone city of South Cotabato had recorded cases of chikungunya these past years.

In 2014, she said over 500 infections were recorded in an outbreak in Tampakan, Tupi and Koronadal City.

Based on their assessment, she said chikungunya has only one viral strain and those infected with the disease eventually develops immunity from it.

Unlike dengue, which has four strains, Lorenzo said the fatality rate from chikungunya is very low due to the absence of bleeding. (MindaNews)