Dengue cases soar past 1,000, but no outbreak declared yet

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CEBU City has recorded 1,254 cases of dengue from January 1 to June 23, 2022, but the City Health Department (CHD) said there is no need to declare an outbreak yet.

CHD head Dr. Jeffrey Ibones said Thursday, June 23, that there was a significant increase in the number of cases since health officials are already going down to household levels to detect possible dengue cases, instead of monitoring only those admitted in hospitals.

“Mosaka ni siya tungod kay ang atong mga staff man gud, atoa nang gipa-go down sa community. Meaning, dili lang ang mga admitted nga individuals nga nag-dengue atong gikuha, apil usab ang nag dengue sa community,” said Ibones.

SunStar Cebu sought Ibones’ comments after the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said 14 regions in the country had exceeded the dengue epidemic threshold, with most of the cases reported in Central Visayas, Central Luzon and Zamboanga Peninsula.

Ibones noted that around 80 percent of those who tested positive for the disease were children 10 years old and below.

He also clarified that there were only 16 mortalities in the city contrary to the 17 deaths that were first reported.

Ibones said the individual who died was not from Cebu City but was just admitted to a hospital in the city.

Dr. Ilya Tac-ang of the City Health Office also said the increase in cases does not mean that there is an outbreak already.

“Dengue is already endemic in Cebu City, so what we watch out for is the trend. We see that every three years, cases rises, so it’s expected that cases will rise this year,” said Tac-ang.

The last time there was a spike in cases in Cebu City was in 2019 when the CHD recorded around 1,900 cases for the whole year. Tac-ang also said that usually, the increase in cases happens in the second half of the year.

In 2021, the CHD recorded only 80 dengue cases from January to May with only two fatalities.

She said they noticed the increase in cases happening in the early part of the year, and this could be attributed to the incessant rains brought by weather disturbances.

Ibones also said that during the typhoon, water was scarce so residents stored their water in containers, which can be a breeding site for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

The health officials further said their coordination with barangay officials continued and they also urged the public to maintain the cleanliness of their surroundings.

According to Ibones, some of their interventions against the disease include search and destroy of mosquito breeding sites, clean-up drives, information dissemination, curtain impregnation, and misting.

Tac-ang also said they are now focusing their campaign on the city’s top five barangays with the most dengue incidence. These are Barangays Guadalupe, Lahug, Tisa, Labangon and Poblacion Pardo.

Exceed threshold

On Wednesday, DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 14 of the country’s 17 regions had exceeded the dengue epidemic threshold.

She said the threshold differs in every area and refers to the number of cases reported at the same time last year compared to the same time period this year.

Vergeire said they had recorded 39,705 cases of dengue from Jan. 1 to June 4, with 202 fatalities.

She said this is 31 percent higher than the dengue cases recorded in the same period in 2021.

Of the fatalities, 29 were recorded in January, 36 in February, 34 in March, 43 in April, 48 in May, and two in June.

The latest figures represent an increase in reported cases of nearly 4,800 and 22 more deaths over a mere two-week period.

Earlier, the DOH had said there were 34,938 dengue cases reported from Jan. 1 to May 21, 2022, with Central Visayas accounting for the bulk of cases at 4,544 (13 percent of cases nationwide), followed by Central Luzon with 4,312 cases and Zamboanga Peninsula with 3,215 cases.

A total of 180 deaths due to dengue were reported during this period. (IRT / TPM / SunStar Philippines)

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