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DOH raises dengue alert due to rainy season

“As rainy season starts, dengue cases may start to soar,” warned Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag during the Colloquium on Current Status of Dengue in the Philippines in Muntinlupa City on 8 June 2012.

 The DOH has already recorded a total of 30,336 dengue cases with 181 deaths from January to May 2012 alone. “This is one percent higher compared to the 30,008 cases for the same period last year,” said Dr. Tayag. The National Capital Region (NCR) tops the list with 7,355 dengue cases, followed by Region III (5,443) and Region IVA (4,321). In Metro Manila, Quezon City recorded 2,075 cases, followed by Manila (1,375), Caloocan (790), Parañaque (503) and Pasig City (463).

In his presentation, Dr. Tayag emphasized the need for the government to innovate to lower the threat of dengue cases in the country. “What we are doing in the past may not be applicable today because even mosquitoes are now changing their nature. Some studies reported that dengue mosquitoes are now surviving in septic tanks, not just on clean stagnant waters,” said Dr. Tayag.

One of the reasons why dengue cases are on the rise, according to Dr. Tayag, is because mosquitoes get help from the communities. “We nurture their eggs by allowing them to stay in our backyards. We created conducive environment for their living and breeding.”

At present, the government prioritizes programs that control dengue by reducing the population of its vectors, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. “First, we have to know the ‘scene of the crime.’ We have to remember that containers are not created equal for mosquito breeding sites,” said Dr. Tayag.

Mosquito habitats vary depending on the community. “In Quezon City, it could be old tires. In Region I, it could be the bromeliad plants and maybe a different thing in other regions of the country. Eliminating mosquitoes starts by finding where mosquito breeding sites are,” said Dr. Tayag.

Aside from mosquito population control, Dr. Tayag cited strategies on dengue prevention and control. “We need to enhance dengue surveillance, because it is the first line of defense.  Through surveillance, we are able to determine dengue even before it occurs. We also need to adapt interventions to local conditions because what is applicable in Metro Manila may not be applicable in the regions. And most importantly, we need to harness cooperation and community participation,” stressed Dr. Tayag.