Health chief urges preventative measures amid dengue fever outbreak

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dengue fever

A health chief has urged the public again to take preventive measures against dengue fever amid an increase of cases across the Philippines.

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In a television interview yesterday (Wednesday, February 20), Director Napoleon Arevalo of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau stressed the importance of the “4S” strategy: Search and destroy mosquito breeding places, secure self-protection, seek early consultation and support fogging or spraying in hotspot areas.

The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 17,801 dengue fever cases in the first weeks of 2019, with 75 deaths as of February 2. The agency only recorded 14,825 cases of the disease from January to February last year.

“January to February 2019, we have 17,800 cases compared to that of 2018 the same period of time, 14,000. There’s an up a little bit but we have alerted the regions which are having cases,” he said.

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On February 14, the local government of Kawayan, Biliran, issued an executive order declaring a dengue outbreak in the town after the disease killed a five-year-old boy and downed 81 others in 10 villages during the first six weeks of 2019.

Arevalo said the DOH had yet to determine the cause of the spike in dengue cases but “the multiple rounds of rains the previous year may have provided potential breeding sites for mosquitoes like old tires, water containers, and any household item that collects rain water, such as old cans and bottles”.

“We would not like to overlook dengue because it is endemic to the country,” he said. He added that the DOH plans to reactivate the Dengue Task Force and monitor areas from the municipal level to the regional level.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration permanently revoked the certificate of product registration for the controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia after Sanofi, its manufacturer, failed to comply with the agency’s regulations.

The order effectively prevents the vaccine from being sold in the country and its selling, importation and distribution will now be deemed “unlawful”. 

Related: Why mosquitoes bite some people more than others

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