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Legazpi stays vigilant vs dengue this summer

LEGAZPI CITY—The City Health Office (CHO) here is not letting its guard down against dengue even in summer as it seriously takes a warning from the Department of Health (DOH) that the killer mosquito-borne disease has become an “all-season” syndrome in Bicol.

Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, Wikimedia Commons
"We maintain our vigilance with our preemptive measures involving communities in all barangays of the city by way of sustained clean-up activities that include clearing of clogged canals, esteros and other places where water is stored and serve as breeding ground for dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes,” CHO chief Dr. Fulbert Gillego on Wednesday said.

This clean-up drive is being initiated by community volunteers in all the 70 barangays of the city and during weekends and by city hall employees who have organized themselves into a clean-up brigade going around rural barangays doing the cleaning themselves and advising communities to dispose their household waste properly to prevent drainage clogging, he said.

“We also maintain our strengthened information and education campaign on dengue, particularly on prevention in communities and schools with the help of barangay health workers (BHWs) who conduct house-to-house and classroom-to-classroom visitations,” Gillego said.

He relayed this information to the Philippines News Agency here in response to an advisory issued over the week by the DOH regional office for Bicol based in the nearby Daraga town urging the public to take precautionary measures against the possible spread of dengue even during the summer season.

Gloria Balboa, the DOH regional director, noted in the advisory that dengue cases that usually are on the uptrend during rainy season should not make the public self-assured during the dry season as this deadly syndrome takes place all year round as long as there are breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti mosquito, its primary carrier.

“Let us not be complacent and abandon our anti-dengue campaign this summer as we should not expect the disease to spread only during the rainy season. Seasonal changes make dengue an unpredictable disease to observe that is why we should be consistent with community involvement towards putting a stop its spread,” she stressed.

In fact, Balboa said, recent monitoring conducted by the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) has noted an increase in the number of dengue cases in four of the six provinces of the region—Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon and Masbate.

She said that the surveillance data from Jan. 1 to Feb. 21 this year has recorded 52 cases in Albay, 65 in Camarines Sur, 25 in Sorsogon and Masbate, 16–whose total of 169, including the 11 cases reported in the regions’ two other provinces of Catanduanes and Camarines Norte, shows a 63-percent increase compared to the regional total of 104 in the same period of 2014.

While the increase rate was posted mainly by the first four provinces, the cases in Catanduanes and Camarines Norte show decreases of 50 percent and 13 percent, respectively, Balboa said, citing the RESU report.

Gillego said he doubts if any of the 52 cases reported in Albay is from the city as his office has not received any confirmed dengue case report from its area of jurisdiction, which is its 70 barangays—nearly half of them distributed within urban districts.

The CHO’s preempted measures include mosquito source reduction activities such as the application of larvicide in potential breeding sites; and eradication of adult mosquitoes through contact spraying using Aqua resigen set in place in barangays where dengue mosquitoes are detected through surveillance activities being initiated by its field personnel, he said.

Dengue infection is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes which usually surface after rainfalls or practically during the wet season that offers breeding grounds out of stagnant water accumulated on clogged canals and other shallow waterways.

Thrown away containers such as coconut shells, empty bottles and tin cans as well as flower vases and salvaged used tires are other dengue mosquito breeding places when left unattended, Gillego explained.

“The best options to prevent dengue are search-and-destroy operations against the mosquito breeding grounds and protection of family members, especially children, from mosquito bites,” he stressed.

Although the CHO chief admitted that there were reported cases of suspected dengue in some barangays of the city last year, the present situation is favorable although not a cause of complacency even when it is summer.

And should there be any suspected case, he said, early and accurate notification for prompt public health intervention; strengthened surveillance in the communities through the activation of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) for daily reporting of persons with fever; and equipping of barangay health stations with Oral Rehydration Solution and Paracetamol are all in place.

“There is no vaccine yet for dengue, thus, the best way to fight it is to prevent mosquito-bites and keep mosquitoes from breeding," he added.

City Mayor Noel Rosal lauded the CHO for its preemptive action, saying efforts to thwart any possible outbreak of disease in the locality is “a must” under the “very determined” public health campaign of the local government not only to maintain livable communities and healthy population but also to keep tourist safe from contacting any contagious disease during their stay here.

“We lost all those that have been gained over years by our tourism industry once we leave public health unattended,” Rosal stressed.

The city government, after surpassing the half-million mark in the number of tourist arrivals in 2013 for a whopping 32.27 percent growth rate over the previous year, has achieved last year another big round of increase be receiving a total of around 700,000 arrivals as it gets closer to hitting the targeted one million mark by 2016. (by Danny Calleja, PNA)

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