Public urged to intensify efforts vs. mosquitoes

By Leilani Junio

September 7 2017, 8:32 pm

MANILA -- The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday called on the public to intensify their efforts to prevent mosquito-borne diseases, such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Japanese Encephalitis (JE), especially during the rainy season.

In a statement, the department noted that while its Epidemiology Bureau has recorded a 44-percent drop in laboratory-confirmed JE cases in the country as of Aug. 26, there could be more cases in the coming weeks.

The DOH called on local governments to step up their monitoring and reporting of any suspect case.

It also said it is firming up plans to introduce JE vaccination among young children next year.

“It is important that the timing of the vaccination against the disease is factored in when administering the vaccine,” it said in the statement.

“Studies showed that there is no known benefit of the vaccine when given during the peak season. On top of this, the hallmark of JE prevention like Dengue should focus on identification and destruction of mosquito breeding sites and environmental cleanliness.”

Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial thus urged the public to take preventive measures against mosquito-borne diseases by getting rid of stagnant water, maintaining a clean environment, and eliminating potential breeding places of mosquitoes, not only at home but in the entire community as well.

Ubial also advised the wearing of protective clothing, such as long sleeves, long pants and socks, to avoid mosquito bites, using mosquito nets, installing screens, and using insect repellents approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

She also told the public to avoid unnecessary and indiscriminate fogging as sometimes it only drives the mosquitoes from one place to another.

Meanwhile, Ubial reminded parents and guardians to seek immediate medical attention in health centers if a family member has a two-day-old fever or is experiencing flu-like symptoms.

According to the DOH, JE is characterized by inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). Most patients who get infected with the JE virus show no telltale sign from five to 15 days after being bitten by a mosquito.

Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and in severe cases, neck stiffness, seizures, paralysis, and coma which may lead to death.

The department said severe cases require immediate hospitalization and that those who recover may still show signs of neurologic complications, such as paralysis, recurrent seizures or inability to speak.

The virus is passed on to humans by the day- and night-biting mosquito, Culex tritaeniorhyncus, which thrives in rural and agricultural areas, as well as in houses with water storage containers in urban areas.

Transmission can occur year-round, often peaking during the rainy season when mosquito populations are higher, the DOH said, noting that JE is endemic in large parts of Asia, including the Philippines.

The department has reported 133 cases of JE from Jan. 1 to Aug. 26 this year, and 53 of them were in Central Luzon. Of the figure, nine patients died – four in Pampanga, two in Zambales, and one each in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Laguna. In the same period last year, 193 people contracted the disease, with 12 deaths reported.

The DOH Epidemiology Bureau meanwhile recorded about 43,770 dengue cases from January to July this year. (PNA)