Philippines declares dengue fever national epidemic after more than 600 deaths

Image  CDC

Image CDC

Health authorities in the Philippines have declared a "national dengue alert" after an alarming upsurge in cases of the viral mosquito-borne disease that has left more than 450 people dead since January.

According to Philippines' National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesperson Mark Timbal, the government has not yet planned to reintroduce the Dengvaxia vaccine for the public, despite the dengue epidemic in the country.

This comes in the wake of the 146,062 cases of dengue being recorded since January up to July 20 this year, 98% higher than the same period in 2018. "This is one of the primary interventions to prevent and control dengue", Duque said.

"It's important to declare a national epidemic in these locations for identifying where a localized response in required, and for enabling the local government units to address the epidemic situation by using their Quick Response Fund", said Francisco Duque, the Philippine Department of Health's Secretary. However, Duque, the health secretary, mentioned that the World Health Organization didn't recommend the use of the vaccine as an outbreak response.

Meanwhile, seven (7) out of these seventeen (17) regions have exceeded the epidemic threshold of dengue in their regions for the past three consecutive weeks. This is followed by Region 4A CALABARZON with 16,515, Zamboanga Peninsula with 12,317, and Northern Mindanao with 11,455 cases. "If Dengvaxia is proven effective to those who already had dengue in the past, then its application to these individuals will surely cause the decline of the overall number of cases".

"As part of our data, is 5,100 cases per week average", said Duque at a press conference about the epidemic on Wednesday.

With the National Dengue Epidemic declaration, the DOH, together with other government agencies, local government units (LGUs), schools, offices, and communities will be conducting a campaign to destroy breeding sites of the disease carrying mosquitoes.

While there is no preventative treatment for Dengue, it can be avoided by wearing insect repellent and clothes that cover the skin.