Chikungunya recurs in Davao City after a decade 

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 June) – Chikungunya, a viral illness transmitted by mosquitoes that causes the sudden onset of fever and severe joint pain, has recurred in Davao City after 10 years, with the local health office reporting two confirmed infections and 16 suspected cases this month.

Melanie Babante, a pest control worker at the Tropical Diseases Prevention and Control Unit of the City Health Office, said in an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Wednesday that the first two cases were confirmed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in the first week of June, based on the laboratory results of the specimens sent by the local government after the patients manifested symptoms of the disease.

The city’s first confirmed cases since February 2012 were a 39-year-old mother and her 12-year-old child, both residents of Purok 27 Farmville in Barangay Ilang, Bunawan District this city.

Both have recovered from the disease, except for the mother who continues to suffer from severe joint pains rendering her unable to do long distance walk, she said.

Babante suspected the recurrence of the infection was due to the increased mobility of  people as the COVID-19 restrictions eased.

She said the mother, who worked as a real estate broker, had travelled to the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS) in Davao del Norte before contracting the infection.

She said that local health authorities are still waiting for the laboratory results on the specimens of the 16 suspected cases, who manifested symptoms characterized by joint pain, fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and rash.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), symptoms “appear between four and seven days after the patient has been bitten by the infected mosquitoe.”

“Chikungunya shares some clinical signs with dengue and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common, therefore the incidence of chikungunya could be much higher than what has been previously reported,” it added.

Babante said that joint pains in some patients would last up to one year.

She said the local government has conducted education campaign in the barangays to contain the spread of the infection, undertaking household surveillance, checking for possible breeding places of the mosquitoes, and indoor residual spraying.

Babante told the residents to keep water containers covered and maintain the cleanliness of their surroundings to deprive the chikungunya-causing Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus of breeding grounds.

Mosquitoes that cause chikungunya are the same mosquitoes that carry the dengue and zika virus, according to Babante.

Babante said some symptoms of chikungunya may last longer even after the patients have been cleared of the infection and can even trigger severe gout and arthritis in some cases. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)