WHO warns: Dengue to likely increase in rainy season; calls for action
Maris Federez • June 13, 2019 • 2469
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning on the alarming increase of dengue cases in some parts of Asia.
In an advisory released on Wednesday (June12), the WHO said several Asian countries are experiencing unusually high numbers of dengue cases for this time of year.
With the rainy season approaching, the WHO is calling for action to minimize illness and deaths from dengue.
“Dengue is one of the fastest-spreading mosquito-borne diseases. Worldwide, the incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the past 50 years,” the news release said.
It added that, “of an estimated 2.5 billion people at risk for dengue globally, about 70% live in Asia Pacific countries. Climate conditions, unclean environments, unplanned urban settlements and rapid urbanization can lead to increased mosquito breeding, especially in urban and semi-urban areas.”
It further said, “several countries in the WHO Western Pacific Region such as Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Viet Nam have observed early increases in the number of dengue cases reported so far this year.”
In Cambodia, more than 1300 suspected cases were reported in week 21 alone — a level which is higher than expected for this time of the year.
In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, as of week 21, a total of 4,216 suspected cases including 14 deaths have been reported.
In Malaysia, a total of 52,941 cases including 81 deaths were reported during the first 22 weeks of 2019.
In Singapore, as of week 21 of 2019, there were a total of 3,886 cases reported.
In Viet Nam, there have been a total of 59,959 suspected cases reported including four deaths as of week 19.
In the Philippines, a total of 77,040 suspected cases of dengue, including 328 deaths, were reported in the first 20 weeks of 2019.
The WHO said, “this is almost double the 41,104 cases reported during the same time period last year. Case numbers remain high, but as they are starting to decline, the rainy season is approaching.”
“The increased number of cases is of concern, but even more worrying is the increase in the rate of people dying from dengue, especially children,” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, adding that “this is a signal that we need to work with countries to strengthen care as well as prevention.”
“Health workers in dengue-endemic areas must be able to recognize the symptoms of dengue and the warning signs of severe dengue, do diagnostic tests and provide life-saving care. Also, families need to know what symptoms to look for and where to get early medical attention. This is especially urgent with the rainy season coming to many parts of Asia,” he added.
Call for action
The WHO advisory said that there is no specific treatment for dengue but early detection, improved clinical management and access to proper medical care for severe dengue can reduce fatality rates.
The international health body recommends that dengue-endemic countries continue educating the population and health workers on recognizing dengue symptoms and the warning signs of severe dengue.
It added that appropriate home care with adequate hydration and rest during the early stages can minimize the risk of the disease becoming severe.
The WHO also urges countries to train health professionals on the diagnosis and proper management of dengue and to prepare health centers and hospitals for effective response in case of outbreaks and influxes of patients.
WHO also encourages governments and communities to reduce the spread of dengue by informing the public of how to clean up mosquito breeding sites.
“With these measures, we can minimize the impact of dengue on people in our Region and save lives,” said Dr. Kasai.
The National Capital Region (NCR) has recorded more than 11,000 dengue cases from January to August 10 this year.
This is 33% higher than what was recorded in the past five years.
“It’s starting to rise and just like the other regions that began with the alert levels, naging epidemic level na sila [they’ve reached the epidemic level]. Pwede pa ring sumipa ang dengue. Kaya hindi ho tayo pwedeng magpahinay-hinay [Dengue case can still go up. That’s why we should not be complacent],” Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque said.
The cities in the NCR where dengue cases have spiked include Paranaque, Malabon, Taguig, Makati, and Mandaluyong.
The DOH clarified that no medicine, supplement, or vaccine had been proven to cure dengue.
The health department also supports the move of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to fund the distribution of food supplements which may help increase an individual’s platelet count to avoid dengue.
“Wala namang gamot ang dengue. Wala ring bakuna. At kung meron man sila ng inaalay na makakagamot, hindi po totoo iyan. Ito po ay food suppmement lamang at kinakailangan merong FDA certificate of product registration [There is no medicine for dengue. No vaccine either. And if there are some who offer something that’s supposed to cure dengue, it’s not true. It’s just a food supplement and it needs to have FDA certificate of product registration],” Duque added.
The health official then reminded the public to clean their surroundings and eradicate dengue-mosquito breeding areas through the 4 o’clock habit using the 4S strategy:
Search and Destroy
Seek Early Consultation
Support Space Spraying
This is to further prevent the number of dengue cases in Metro Manila to further exceed the health department’s alert threshold. (from the report of Aiko Miguel) /mbmf
“The vaccines that we are mentioning is not a solution or a silver bullet for the ongoing outbreak. We are open to any discussion with the health authorities to see what is needed, what do they need for the future,” Zinsou said.
In February this year, the FDA revoked the certificate of product registration of Dengvaxia.
Sanofi already filed an appeal two weeks ago and the DOH will release their decision on the issue on August 19.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
The Department of Health (DOH) said there is no mutant strain of dengue virus in the country.
In a statement, the DOH said that there are only four strains of dengue virus in the country.
DENV-1 causes pain behind the eyes while DENV-2 is associated with nose bleeding and blood-streaked vomiting. DENV-3 and DENV-4 cause the symptoms of fever, muscle pains, headaches, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.
DOH Spokesman Usec. Eric Domingo also clarified there are no official statements saying a new strain of dengue virus had caused the surge of dengue cases in the country.
“Neither the DOH official nor the Secretary of Health mentioned a new strain of dengue virus,” he said.
Meanwhile, the DOH assured continuous coordination with local governments to avoid an overflow of dengue patients in hospitals.
The latest number of dengue cases which is now over 157,000 is the highest in the last five years, Domingo added.
“This is one of the highest and it’s the first time that we’ve actually talagang nag-declare tayo ng dengue na national epidemic(declared dengue as a national epidemic). This is the highest in the last 5-6 years,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
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