June 4, 2023

More dengue cases have been recorded in the Cordillera with cases peaking earlier than normal this year leading to more than 300 percent increase in the entire region compared to 2021.

The Department of Health-Cordillera reported as of June 4, the region has recorded 2,461 dengue cases since January, which is 379 percent higher compared to 513 cases for recorded for the same period last year.

DOH-Cordillera Entomologist Alexander Baday said the data is considered alarming since dengue cases usually peak in the third quarter of the year within its normal three-year cyclic pattern, but the region is already recording a high number of cases this second quarter.

Among the provinces, Baday reported Apayao recorded the highest increase in cases, with 712 cases this year from only 13 cases last year, equivalent to 5,376 percent increase, followed by Kalinga with 415 cases from 21 last year, posting 1,876 percent spike in cases.

Ifugao posted 993 percent increase for having 164 cases from 15 last year; Mountain Province with 78 cases from 14 cases last year – 457 percent increase; Benguet with 665 cases from 297 cases last year – 123 percent increase; and Baguio City with 264 cases from 121 cases during the same period last year or an increase of 118 percent.

Only Abra posted a decrease in its dengue cases, having 14 this year which is six percent lower than last year’s 15 cases.

Four died this year – two from Apayao, one from Benguet, and one from Kalinga.

Of the total cases recorded in the region, 149 are not Cordillera residents but were detected with dengue in the region. Last year there were only 17.

Most of those who caught the virus are the younger population, or those from the 11 to 15 years old age group with 364 cases; 16 to 20 – 322 cases; six to 10 – 293; 21 to 25 – 277; and one to five years old – 257 cases.

Baday said there are no new strategies for prevention and control of dengue, but reiterated the use of dengue epidemic preparedness and response checklists to address the increasing number of reported dengue morbidities contained in DOH Memorandums 2019-0315 and 2021-0398.

The memos mandate concerned agencies to implement and intensify the enhanced 4S strategy, reactivate dengue task forces; intensify health education campaign against dengue; intensify vector surveillance; initiation of integrated vector management through larviciding, space spraying, and targeted residual spraying; and clinical case management. 

Baday emphasized the 4S strategy (search and destroy mosquito breeding sites, self-protection measures, seek early consultation, support fogging activities) in the home especially now that most of everyday activities are conducted at home, and because it is the rainy season which increases the risk for dengue infection.

Seeking early consultation is important, though it has been observed many do not want to do such for fear of being swabbed for the Covid-19.

He said people should not be afraid of the Covid-19 swab test, but be afraid of dengue because one of the reasons of deaths due to dengue is late consultation.

Barangay leaders have also been called to intensify cleanup drives in the barangay through mobilization of volunteers, residents, barangay health teams, and tanods to ensure implementation and sustainability of the 4S in the communities.

Baguio, which reported clustering of cases in 14 barangays, is currently conducting collection of old or used tires, which are the primary mosquito breeding site at the households.

Baday said they have also adopted the PDITRM strategy for Covid-19 in the control and prevention of dengue as this can be integrated in the control program for aedes-borne viral diseases. The PDITRM stands for prevent, detect, isolate, treat, reintegrate, and mainstream the new normal.

He said compared to Covid-19, dengue has a vector or carrier which transmits the disease, which allows for earlier detection through larval surveillance so that before there will be cases, it can be known if an area is at risk for dengue. 

Dengue can be detected earlier through rapid diagnostic test (RDT) in 15 minutes, which means the infection could be managed earlier as well. RDT kits are available in health centers. – Hanna C. Lacsamana