Chikungunya outbreak puts Biliran town in state of calamity

Marje Pelayo   •   August 2, 2018   •   3963

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are commonly involved in the spread of chikungunya virus. (Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


BILIRAN, Philippines – The island town of Maripipi in Biliran province has been placed under a state of calamity after the Department of Health (DOH) declared an outbreak of chikungunya infection.

The mosquito-borne virus already afflicted 79 residents as of Wednesday (August 1).

The local government declared a state of calamity to fast-track efforts to combat the virus including intensified information and preventive campaigns to prevent a further rise in chikungunya cases on the island.

The DOH said the current number of cases is notably higher than the eight cases recorded in 2016. Nevertheless, the agency allayed public fears saying the peak of the infection already passed, usually between the months of April and June.

“We would like to inform the public na controlled na ang kanilang kaso ng chikungunya at nag-decrease na. Walang dapat ipangamba ang community. Nariyan ang ating mga health personnel na pwedeng tumulong sa inyo regarding sa issue ng pagkakaroon natin ng outbreak,” said DOH-8 Information Officer John Paul Roca.

The DOH constantly reminds residents to maintain cleanliness in their surroundings to destroy potential breeding grounds of mosquitoes.

Chikungunya cases are more prevalent in seven villages in Maripipi. These are Bato, Banlas, Binalayan, Ermita, Binongto-an, Danao, and Viga where cases of chikungunya were recorded since April this year.

Chikungunya virus causes transient sickness characterized by severe joint pain that can last from weeks to years in patients. To date, no approved vaccines or antivirals are available to treat the disease. However, treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms. – Archyl Egano / Marje Pelayo

50 Urduja-hit families in Biliran leave tent city for transitional shelters

admin   •   August 23, 2018

Transitional shelters for families affected by Typhoon Urduja in December 2017


After eight months of living in a tent in Biliran, 50 families who lost their homes to Typhoon Urduja in December 2017 have finally moved into sturdier transitional shelters.

They have long suffered the camp-like conditions that many of them still get emotional every time they remember the tragedy that hit them.

“Ug way nagsuplay sa amo wa mi tagaig bugas lisod gyud wa may pangwarta wa mibuhion nangamatay among mga manok among baboy naanod… dakong pasalamat namo nga gitagaan mig bahay (Had no one helped us or given us rice supply, we would have really suffered. We have no income. Our chickens and pigs were swept away. We are very grateful that we were given these shelters) said Armogina Labesto tearfully as she recounted the day the sea swept away their home and livestock.


Armogina Labesto still gets teary-eyed every time she recalls their ordeal.


Roel Amparado is also among those who were left homeless during the onslaught of Urduja. He said they were unable to save anything because the sea quickly swallowed everything they had.

“Di na man mapuy-an an amon gipuy-an didto kay naabot na man sa dagat maoy hinungdan nga gidala mi didi sa gipapuyo mi sa tent pagkahuman didto gibalhin pud mi dinhi (The sea was already reaching our house. It wasn’t safe to stay anymore, so we were relocated to the tent city),” he said.

The shelters were made of concrete with sawali (woven split bamboo mats) walls and a galvanized iron roof.

These will serve as temporary dwellings while waiting for the government to finish the housing project designed for them.

The initiative was made possible by the partnership of various government agencies and non-government organizations.

“After Urduja, we identified that housing is the most important need of the affected communities,” said Rotary Club Executive Director Troy Bumabat.

Affected families were not only provided with temporary shelters, but also with livelihood opportunities.

“We have graduated a total of 76 beneficiaries for the construction related qualification,” said TESDA Provincial Director Elizabeth Garcia. “This is a concrete example of a public private partnership.” — Archyl Egano


NDRRMC: 41 dead, 45 missing as ‘Urduja’ lashes Eastern Visayas

UNTV News   •   December 20, 2017

The number of deaths due to the onslaught of typhoon Urduja in Eastern Visayas has climbed to 41.

Based on the report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the highest number of deaths was recorded in the province of Biliran.

67 were injured and authorities said the death toll might increase further as four individuals remain missing.

“This is subject for verification, validation and confirmation of the management on the dead and missing person cluster as led by the Department of Interior and Local Government,” NDRRMC Spokesperson Romina Marasigan said.

More than 12,000 families have evacuated to almost 400 temporary shelters in Bicol, Eestern Visayas, Mimaropa and Caraga Region.”We still have relief operations. We give them family food packs and food items,” Marasigan said.

Based on the partial assessment of the NDRRMC, the typhoon has caused almost more than P500-million worth of damages to infrastructure, and P4-million to agriculture.

“The clearing operations by the Department of the Public Works and Highways are still ongoing,” Marasigan added.

Although typhoon Urduja has already exited the Philippine area of responsibility, the NDRRMC remains on red alert due to another low pressure area that is expected to enter the country this week. – Lea Ylagan | UNTV News & Rescue

Brazilian scientists release immunized mosquitoes to combat dengue

admin   •   August 30, 2017

Scientists from the government-backed Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil hopes to combat the spread of dengue in humans.

Brazil’s Ministry of Health reported that the first quarter of 2017 saw a significant drop in dengue cases, down by 90%, compared with the same period in 2016.

Still, dengue fever is one of the biggest threats to the health of those living in Brazil and of those visiting the country as well.

For this reason, scientists infected mosquitoes with a bacteria that blocks dengue fever virus from infecting them. The bacteria that are being introduced – Wolbachia – is harmless to humans.

“The importance of the Wolbachia is that we’re bringing a mosquito that could come to really reduce the number of mosquitoes that transmit illnesses like dengue, Zika and Chikungunya (viruses) in a locality where they establish themselves,” said Oswaldo Cruz Foundation Brazilian researcher Luciano Moreira.

They hope that these mosquitoes will multiply, breed and become the predominant mosquito, gradually wiping out the insects’ ability to spread the virus.

To date, there are no vaccines or effective treatments. — Dave Tirao | UNTV News & Rescue


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