The Koronadal City Hall. (Photo courtesy of the Koronadal City local government)

KORONADAL CITY – The epidemiology and surveillance unit of the City Health Office (CHO) here, along with South Cotabato’s Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), has strengthened case-finding activities against filariasis to keep the disease from spreading in the area.

Acting CHO chief, Dr. Vincent Ende, confirmed on Wednesday a case of lymphatic filariasis in one of the sitios in remote Barangay Assumption here.

The patient, who was not identified by local health authorities, was one of 38 individuals who underwent blood smearing as part of the IPHO’s outreach activity last week.

“The provincial health office had given medicine to the patient who had no symptoms of the disease but had a travel history in the boundary of Koronadal and an adjacent municipality,” Ende said in an interview.

Once the nocturnal blood smearing on 200 target individuals is done, he said they would conduct mass treatment within the community.

“We hope to start the mass treatment by Friday this week or probably next week,” he added.

Filariasis is an infection caused by parasitic worms that are transmitted by the bite of blood-feeding mosquitoes from one person to another.

Its symptoms include an over-activated immune system, fluid buildup in one’s lymphatic system, swelling, and fluid buildup in the scrotum, and edema or swelling and fluid buildup in an infected person’s arms, legs, breasts, and female genitals.

Given the vector of the disease, the CHO is also conducting fogging operations and spearheading a cleanup drive to get rid of mosquitoes that carry microscopic worms and often bite during the hours between dusk and dawn.

“We have a series of activities to prevent the spread of filariasis. We are also conducting vector mapping and cleanup drive to a nearby stream to eradicate filariasis-carrying mosquitoes,” Ende said.

Jose Barroquillo Jr., IPHO program coordinator for mosquito borne-diseases, said the single case that was reported does not affect the current filariasis-free status of South Cotabato as it is still below 1 percent of the population.

South Cotabato was declared “filariasis-free” by the Department of Health and World Health Organization in 2017. (PNA)