Dengue: an ecologic disease needing community support

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In Caloocan City, Metro Manila, Philippines dengue is reportedly up by 500%. Compared to last year’s 187 cases, 994 have so far been recorded with 7 deaths from January to August 2008. The same rising trend occurs in other places in the country. The mosquito-borne viral disease which comes in a predictable seasonal fashion has increased.

That’s why the advice of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III urging the public to clean villages to destroy breeding areas of mosquitoes makes a lot of sense. But are we doing it? Are we hearing him loud and clear? Individuals, families, barangays, support groups, NGO’s, government authorities, hospitals, the DOH must work together to control the disease.

Dengue is a man-made problem related to human behaviour which is affected by “globalization, rapid unplanned and unregulated urban development, poor water storage and unsatisfactory sanitary conditions. These factors provide an increase in the breeding habitats of the mosquito.” says Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia, Dr. Samlee Plianbangchang.

The dengue virus spreads through the bite of the infectious female Aedes mosquito, primarily Aedes aegypti, which breeds in artificial containers and improperly managed garbage where clean or clear water accumulates. Since dengue and dengue haemorrhagic fever are ecological diseases, prevention is the key to effective control. Surveillance of vectors and the disease are critical because outbreaks of dengue are generally preceded by increased vector populations in local areas.”

Vector control, such as the control of mosquito breeding in domestic and peri-domestic areas, is imperative for prevention of dengue,” said Dr Jai P. Narain, Director of Communicable Diseases for WHO SEARO.

Individuals, families, community support groups, self-help groups, NGOs, local authorities and departments of health need to work together to address the current situation because dengue is everyone’s concern—-World Health Organization (WHO)SEA/PRA/1446 (08/09/07)

Vaccine is yet to be developed to fight dengue. Since there’s no medicine or antibiotic specific for the viral disease, treatment is basically supportive. Physicians and caregivers are expected to follow national guidelines in treating dengue. =0=

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