THE start of the rainy season in the Philippines usually raises concerns about diseases linked to the weather and flooding, such as respiratory ailments and leptospirosis. These last few days, however, have seen the rise in the number of cases of two diseases – dengue and measles – with no relation to the weather.
The Department of Health (DoH) issued a national dengue alert last Monday, the first time it has ever done so, as the number of cases reached 106,630 from January to June, 85 percent higher than the figure for the same period last year. Most of the cases were in West Visayas, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Soccsksargen, and Northern Mindanao. There are now 89 dengue deaths, according to the National Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Also being monitored because of their rising number of cases are Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindnao, and Cordillera Administrative Region. A rise in dengue cases has also been reported in other countries in our part of the world, notably Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore.
The DoH urged the public to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of dengue by searching and destroying mosquito breeding places, wearing long sleeves and using insect repellents, seeking early medical attention upon seeing symptoms of the disease, and fogging operations.
The DoH has also raised a red flag of alert against another viral disease – measles – in the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas. Other regions which also reported an increase in the number of measles cases are Mimaropa, Ilocos, Northern Mindanao, Easern Visayas, and Soccsksargen,
The World Health Organization (WHO) said there has been a rise in measles cases around the world, blamed partly on an “antivax” movement linking vaccines to side effects such as autism. The WHO expressed concern about the spread of this misinformation which has discouraged many parents, particularly in the United States, from taking their children to have their usual vaccine shots.
Our DoH is on the alert and is now mobilizing government hospitals and other health resources to stop the spread of these two ailments. Fogging operations could be undertaken by local governments to wipe out the dengue virus-bearing mosquitoes.
But a great deal depends on the public, particularly the parents of children who are particularly prone to dengue and measles infections. They should take advantage of the government’s program of vaccination against these and other viral diseases.