Dengue has killed 429 Filipinos since January

Dengue-carrying mosquitos have scourged regions nationwide and sent more than 50,000 Filipinos to hospitals since January.

The Department of Health (DoH) has recorded a total of 54,659 cases in the past eight months until Aug. 14—a 75-percent spike in figures reported for the same period in 2009.

Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, DoH head executive assistant, Tuesday said a clustering of dengue cases had been detected nationwide. “Last year, there was clustering of dengue cases only in certain provinces. But now, clustering is in every region,” Oliveros told the Inquirer by phone.

At least 429 deaths have been monitored across the country, with Eastern Visayas registering the highest
figure at 70, marking a 31-percent upsurge from 2009 figures.

DoH records as of Aug. 14 showed that most of the dengue cases were from Western Visayas with 7,680; Soccsksargen, 6,470; Calabarzon, 5,739; Eastern Visayas, 5,543; Metro Manila, 4,744; Davao, 4,658; and Northern Mindanao, 3,935.

Of the dengue patients, mostly male, 77 percent ranged in age from one to 20 years old.

Dr. Eric Tayag, head of the National Epidemiology Center, said the rise in the number of dengue cases by 75 percent clearly indicated that Filipino households had gone back to their “old ways.”

But Tayag said the situation could not yet be considered “alarming” because the morbidity rate had not exceeded 1 percent.

It only reflected the number of people going to doctors for early diagnosis and intervention, “which is a good thing,” he said in a separate phone interview.

‘4S’ strategy

Tayag said complacency had set in despite the persistent efforts of the DoH to push every household to destroy every possible breeding ground of the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti.

The public has been enjoined to consistently observe the “4S” strategy against the virus: Searching for and destroying breeding grounds of mosquitos; self-protection by using mosquito nets, wearing protective clothes, or using mosquito repellents; seeking early medical treatment when signs and symptoms appear; and saying “no” to indiscriminate fogging.

“Through the years we’ve seen low numbers of dengue cases … Only a few were getting sick. But that’s the paradox of dengue,” Tayag said. “If only a small number gets sick, we will have a bigger number of potential victims.”

A dengue patient infected with a specific strain of the virus develops immunity for the same strain, he pointed out.

But apparently, the Philippines is now dealing with four strains of the virus—a contributing factor to the upsurge in the number of dengue patients this year, Oliveros noted.

She said that in 2009, only one strain was monitored.

“If a patient acquires a certain strain of the virus, it does not hold that he will not get sick again with another strain,” she said.

El Niño

Health officials also attributed the rise in the number of dengue cases to the El Niño phenomenon experienced in the first two quarters of the year and the onset of the rainy season.

Tayag said the incorrect way of storing water during the dry spell had virtually expanded the breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti.

But despite the dengue outbreak, the DoH saw no need to overhaul its approach to the deadly virus, saying that cooperation from the public remained a vital solution to the problem.

Oliveros said the DoH had intensified its information drive against dengue, with Health Secretary Enrique Ona doing the rounds in towns and schools across the country.

Express lanes have also been ordered put up in hospitals nationwide to attend to dengue patients.

But Tayag appealed to dengue patients to heed doctors’ advice in continuing treatment at home.

“Some cases can be treated at home. By refusing to go home, they are actually displacing other dengue patients who really need hospital services,” he said.

Northern Luzon

Mountain towns of the Cordillera Administrative Region recorded a 150-percent increase in dengue patients during the first semester of the year. Towns in Cagayan province reported dealing with 787 cases and the death of eight patients from January to Aug. 26.

From a 90-percent rise in Cordillera cases that were reported in July, the DoH observed this week that the number of dengue patients had reached 2,577 from January to Aug. 21.

Hospitals in Abra, Baguio City, Benguet and Mountain Province reported nine deaths, including a resident of Ilocos Sur who was treated in a Baguio hospital.

Government hospitals in Baguio and Benguet treated 91 out-of-town patients.

Ifugao has the highest number of dengue cases at 612, followed by Baguio, 492; and Benguet, 455. Abra recorded only 48.

In San Pablo, Isabela, government records showed a sharp increase in dengue cases from July to August.

Of 787 cases recorded, 451 occurred in the last two months, said Floro Orata, DoH-Cagayan information officer.

Eight deaths from dengue were recorded in the towns of Santa Ana, Lasam and Aparri in Cagayan; Jones and Ilagan in Isabela; Diadi in Nueva Vizcaya; and Maddela in Quirino.

Hospitals in Batac, Ilocos Norte, have expanded their rooms to accommodate more dengue patients.

Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center, for example, has a dengue ward with less than 10 beds. But Alma Invention, its health education promotions officer, said 40 patients, 28 of them children, were under observation in August. In July, the hospital treated 54 dengue cases.

From January to August, the hospital recorded 377 dengue patients, with nine deaths. The patients came from Laoag, Batac, and Dingras, which has been under a state of calamity since July.

At least ten towns and cities in Pangasinan province were put on the watch list when dengue cases shot up to 316 from January to Aug. 23.

Dr. Anna de Guzman, provincial health officer, said four had died of the disease.

The DoH is monitoring the towns of Mangatarem, San Fabian, Sual, Calasiao, Mangaldan, San Jacinto, Lingayen and Bugallon, and the cities of Dagupan and San Carlos.


In the Bicol region, the number of dengue cases has topped the 1,000-mark.

Dr. Nestor Santiago Jr., DoH regional director, said in a statement that 1,003 cases had been recorded from January to Aug. 19. Last year’s figure was 943.

Santiago said the provinces of Camarines Sur (469) and Albay (314) had the biggest number of cases.

He said the DoH had provided technical and logistical assistance to provincial health offices and was closely monitoring areas with high incidence, and intensifying its antidengue campaign.

“The best way to prevent the disease is through source reduction and reduction of man-mosquito contact,” Santiago said.

Dr. Rogelio Rivera, chief of government-run Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH), said dengue cases had reached an alarming number.

Rivera said that as of Aug. 17, there were 406 dengue patients in the pediatrics ward, 102 of whom were admitted this month. During the same time in 2009, only 126 were recorded.

At the internal medicine ward for adults, 95 dengue patients were admitted from January to August, with 28 of them admitted this month.

Rivera said there was a fast lane for dengue patients at the BRTTH to ensure fast and efficient response.

He said that early detection was very important to manage the virus.

To address the continued rise in cases in Albay, the provincial government has formed an antidengue task force.


Overcrowded hospitals, intensified cleaning of surroundings and more funds for treatment have become standard in many areas in the Visayas as the number of dengue cases continued to rise.

At A. Mirasol Elementary School in Mandurriao, Iloilo City, female pupils have been wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants instead of the prescribed blouse and skirt.

Upon the advice of school officials, students in most Iloilo elementary schools have also adopted this measure as part of efforts to contain the dengue infection that has reached epidemic levels in some areas in Western Visayas.

“We make our children wear pajamas even during the day,” said Gwendolyn Calusay, 33, of Barangay Gloria.

Calusay brought her feverish 8-year-old daughter Yna Grace to state-run Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC), where she has been confined for testing.

The number of dengue cases in Western Visayas has reached 10,026 from Jan. 1 to Aug. 14—more than thrice the 2,977 cases reported during the same period in 2009, according to a DoH report.

Fifty-eight deaths have been reported.

The provinces of Iloilo, Capiz and Guimaras are now in a state of calamity because of the dengue cases.

Nerissa Lumayno, a resident of Barangay Dungon in Mandurriao, said they had continuously cleaned the breeding grounds of mosquitos in their community.

But Lumayno’s niece, Loren Ambid, 9, still got infected and has been confined at the WVMC pediatric ward since Tuesday.

The sharp increase in dengue cases has overwhelmed both private and government hospitals.

A ward intended for kidney patients at WVMC was converted into a “Dengue Express Lane” last month.

Patients reached around 100 on Thursday, with patients coming in as others were discharged, WVMC nurse supervisor Maria Violeta Calopez said.

Dr. Ramon Guerra, chief of WVMC, said earlier that dengue patients had swamped the 300-bed hospital.

In a circular dated Aug. 19, Jaro Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza issued an “Oratio Imperata” (mandated prayer) to be prayed in daily and Sunday Masses.

Cebu and Negros Occidental are also trying to cope with the situation.

With the 10 deaths and 1,000 cases in Cebu City from January to August, city health officer Dr. Stella Ygoña recommended to the city council that barangay officials spearhead the campaign to destroy the breeding grounds of dengue mosquitos.

In Negros Occidental, dengue cases have risen by 364 percent over 2009 figures.

There were 3,448 cases from Jan. 1 to Aug. 14, compared to 743 with 13 deaths in the same period in 2009.