Dengue on the rise: How to protect your family against dengue virus

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2019   •   3004

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday declared a national alert due to spiking dengue cases in several regions.

READ: DOH declares dengue alert in several regions

Data from the DOH showed that from January 1 to June 29, 2019, there have been 106,630 dengue cases this year. This is 85 percent higher than the 57,564 cases reported in the same period in 2018.

Regions where the dengue alert was raised include Regions 1, 2, 4A, 5, 8, 9, 11, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection commonly occurring in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, including the Philippines.

The dengue virus (DEN) comprises four distinct serotypes (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4) which belong to the genus Flavivirus, family Flaviviridae.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the main vector that transmits the viruses that cause dengue. The viruses are passed on to humans through the bites of an infective female Aedes mosquito, which mainly acquires the virus while feeding on the blood of an infected person.

How dengue virus affects your body?

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Cybele Abad, in an interview with UNTV Digital program Lifesaver, said that when dengue virus enters the human body, it spreads through blood and infects the cells by binding itself to the cell membrane.

When this happens, an infected person may feel sudden, high fever followed by severe headaches, pain behind the eyes and severe joint and muscle pain. A person may also feel fatigue, nausea and skin rash which would appear two to five days after the onset of fever.

Watch this online episode of Lifesaver for more information on how dengue affects your body.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of dengue typically last two to seven days. Most people infected by the virus will recover after about a week.

However, some people who get sick with dengue may develop severe dengue, a more serious form of disease that can result in shock, internal bleeding and even death.

Symptoms of severe dengue include stomach or belly pain, bleeding from the nose or gums, vomiting blood or blood in the stool. Warning signs generally begin in 24-48 hours after your fever has gone away.

If you or a family member develops any of the following symptoms, immediately go to the nearest hospital.

How to prevent dengue?

To protect yourself and your family from dengue, the DOH advises the public to follow the 4S strategy: Search and destroy, Self-protection measures, Seek early consultation and Support fogging/spraying.

The DOH said it is important to search and destroy the breeding sites of mosquitoes such as containers that can store water; employ self-protection measures by installing screen on windows and doors in homes and schools, wear long socks, clothes with long sleeves and daily use of mosquito repellent.

It is also vital to seek early consultation when a person is starting to experience the symptoms. The public is also urged to support fogging or spraying only in areas where increase in cases is registered for two consecutive weeks to prevent an impending outbreak.

Experts said dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes are usually active from 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Lifesaver is a UNTV Digital program that offers basic first aid training essential to anyone who happens to be a bystander to an accident or emergency. It also educates viewers of imperative emergency response lessons and indispensable disaster preparedness tools to be able to save lives in times of calamities.

For more information on dengue, other basic first aid and emergency response tips, visit Lifesaver’s Youtube and Facebook accounts.

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk – WHO

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (August 22).

Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns, but the limited data appears reassuring the U.N. agency said in its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.

Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.

It added however that the current and available studies on the toxicity of plastic parts are limited, and also have not used standardized methods enabling scientists to have reproducible and comparable metrics, and that more studies are needed to be more conclusive on certain of the issues.

Microplastics pose three threats, a physical one, a chemical and the third is about bacterial colonization.

The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while the vast majority of smaller ones are likely to be excreted too, there still remains concern. WHO technical experts reported that more research needs to be conducted to know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts.

The chemical hazard, experts have looked at the concentrations found in marine microplastics and chose a worst-case scenario saying we would ingest the highest possible concentrations. According to WHO, whatever the chemical, the exposure level was a lot safer than any threshold of risks.

Bacterial colonization, health experts say there are so many particles in the environment bacteria might adhere to, that microplastics would make a negligible contribution to any microbioflora that would be released and pose a risk.

For this report, however, despite the flaws, they say they worked with worst-case scenarios and are confident that the risk would remain low should some data change.

The WHO recommended for consumers to keep on consuming tap or bottled water, provided it is correctly treated, and didn’t recommend for any regulations to be put in place. It also called for more studies, investigating the potential cumulative effects of the ingestion of microplastics present in food, air, water.

The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens —including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrhoeal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.

Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”

Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June.

That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish. (Reuters)

(Production: Marina Depretis, Emilie Delwarde)

DOH Region 3: Over 100 Chinese workers, now dengue free

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 21, 2019

The Department of Health (DOH) Region 3 has reported that the over 100 Chinese workers who contracted dengue in Morong, Bataan are now free of the disease.

The Chief of the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit of DOH Region 3 Dr. Jessie Fantone said 69 of the Chinese workers have contracted dengue last March. The remaining 35 were reported to have contracted the diseases this August.

“All of them got well and wala namang namatay. Kaya lang noong pinuntahan namin iyong plant nila marami silang areas na stagnant water na breeding sites (There were no fatalities, but when we visited their plant, there was a lot of stagnant water which can be become breeding sites),” he said.

Meanwhile, cleaning operations continue at the barangay where the coal plant is located.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Leptospirosis case now over 900; NKTI gym, converted into leptos ward

Maris Federez   •   August 20, 2019

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) has turned its gymnasium into an alternative ward for leptospirosis patients.

This is to accommodate patients with leptospirosis and be provided with immediate treatment for the deadly disease.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the recent rains that caused flooding had contributed to the increase in the number of leptospirosis patients in Metro Manila alone.

To date, the DOH has recorded 106 fatalities and more than 900 cases of leptospirosis. 300 of which are from the NCR.

“It’s really a problem because you know the environmental, sanitation and hygiene do affect the health of our people because the local government, for example, do not do their efficient garbage collection, so certainly it raises the risk of the populace,” DOH Sec. Francisco Duque added.

This, however, is still low compared to what was recorded last year in the last 2 years.

The DOH then urged the public to maintain cleanliness in their respective surroundings to prevent leptospirosis. (with details from Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

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