Archive for the ‘dengue’ Category

Singapore reports of 3 cases of dengue from blood transfusion

October 4, 2008

With dengue virus endemic in the Philippines like in Singapore, it is worth knowing that three patients in Singapore contracted the virus through blood transfusions. Reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, (P. A. Tambyah et al, NEJM, Vol 359, No.14, 1526-1527,) this has practical applications to blood banking in the country which tries to make donations and transfusions safe.

Dengue, the world’s most-common mosquito-borne disease, is endemic in Singapore, where it has infected more than 4,600 people this year. The city-state doesn’t screen donated blood for dengue because existing tests are too slow, and faster, more expensive tests that look for RNA, the virus’s genetic code, haven’t yet been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority said.”—Bloomberg News (10/03/08, Bennet, S)

If Singapore doesn’t perform testing for dengue in its blood bank, it is likely the same is true in the Philippines. This increases the chance of transfusion-transmitted dengue infection in endemic areas, putting the safety of blood in question. Without the testing, the only major layer of protection is a focus on patient’s history—find hints of dengue infection among blood donors, hopefully keeping them out of the blood bank pool. Unfortunately, this alone can’t guarantee the safety of the blood. =0=

Dengue: an ecologic disease needing community support

August 18, 2008

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=

Be it for mom, a friend or an unknown soul, there’s always a good reason to donate blood

July 28, 2008

My pulse was bouncy like the gallop of a horse in the racetrack. I felt the familiar throbbing pain on my back and the squeezing sensation in my legs. Pallor and jaundice was obvious on my suffused eyes. I noticed my urine took the color of brewed coffee from Starbuck’s.I’m a patient now by Augusto F. Mesia, M.D.

That’s how a patient feels when he’s running out of blood. All the time, in hospitals worldwide, there is a person like him who requires transfusion. The need for blood never takes a break.

Be it for the unknown soldier profusely bleeding from gunshot wounds, a farmer’s child stricken with Dengue, an old man gasping for breath because of hemorrhagic shock, a mother who suffers from severe anemia of pregnancy and parturition, a baby whose bone marrow had shut down as a result of cancer and chemotherapy—-they all need our help. Without the gift of blood, they can die. We’re prodded to donate blood especially in lean days when blood banks run low in their inventories.

The Department of Health (DOH,) hospitals, civic organizations, schools, churches, the military, and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) set aside days for blood drives so we partake in saving the lives of people. We need to appreciate the importance of voluntary (vs. paid donors) blood-giving.

In the harrowing days of World War II, in bomb-torn Europe, people organized blood donation parties to shed for the wounded fighters in the battle fields. People from all walks of life willingly lined up to give blood. Not all of us had this edifying altruistic experience. We share little history of blood donations like them. Therefore it makes sense that we campaign for aggressive blood-letting.

The yearly collection of blood per year in the United States is about 15 million bags of whole blood and about 5 million are transfused as blood components. These components are derived from whole blood which include red cells, platelets, white cells, plasma, cryoprecipitate, gamma globulin (IVIg) and albumin. (Source: The National Blood Data Resource Center, 2001, the most recent year for which data are available.)

Risk Estimates for Blood Transfusions in the U.S.
Risk per Unit
Human Immunodeficiency Virus— 1: 2 million
Using p24 Testing

Human Lymphocytotrophic Virus— 1: 3 million

Hepatitis C Virus— 1: 2 million

Hepatitis B Virus— 1: 200,000

Source: American Red Cross,

A positive development in the Philippines, Dr. Eduardo Pedrosa, Department of Health (DOH) regional coordinator for blood donation in Visayas said there is a growing public awareness of the benefits of blood donation. Celebrating July as a blood month, he noted a rise of volunteer donors and increased number of blood bags collected—from about 11,000 to over 18, 000 units in 2007 in blood-letting programs. Their target for this year is 22,000 units. ABS-CBN-Tacloban (7/17/08, Docdocan, J.)

Blood donation is labor-intensive. From collection to actual blood transfusion, the chain of work is centered on safety. Pre-donation interviews and physical examinations are conducted. The screening and matching of compatible donors have become so stringent that the risks of adverse effects from donating and receiving blood have been kept to the barest minimum.

Who can donate blood?

In general, people of good health, at least 17 years old, weighing at least 110 pounds may donate blood every 2 months (not as frequent as every ~56 six days.) Whole blood is harvested and processed using aseptic techniques from healthy donors which satisfy the criteria of medical history, current physical health, and possible contact with transfusion-related infectious diseases. These requirements which may vary slightly from country to country, make blood far safer now than at the time immunologist-pathologist Dr. Karl Landsteiner discovered the ABO blood groups in the early 1900s. Although there are obstacles to tackle, our local blood banks are working hard to improve its service so that blood could be made a notch safer for donors and recipients alike. =0=

Dark Knight’s Blockbuster Bonanza, Zimbabwe’s $100 Billion Dollar Note, & GMA’s Dismal Popularity Rating

July 21, 2008

$155.34 million
-Hollywood’s popular record-breaking block-buster entertainment “The Dark Knight” is Christopher Nolan’s dark sequel to “Batman Begins” which drew excited fans and profits in tinseltown on the first week of showing. Recently deceased actor Heath Ledger acts as the Joker. There are those who think the movie is too violent and may not be appropriate for kids below 12.

$100 billion note
-To cope with a hyperinflation of 2.2 million percent, Zimbabwe’s Central Bank issued this latest huge bank note in a series of high money denominations, to deal with cash and food shortages leaving 80% of its people below the poverty line.

(-) 38%
-Social Weather Station (SWS) revealed the dismal approval rating of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo on July 18, 2008, making her the most unpopular Philippine president since 1986. It’s lower than her (-) 33% approval rating in May 2005, prompting Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, head of CBCP to advise the president to take her unpopularity “seriously.”

-The number of US military troops who died in the Iraq War since it started 5 years ago, according to a recent count by the Associated Press on July 20, 2008.

-No one has lost money in FDIC-insured savings of up to $100,000 in the last 75 years, said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson who cautions anxious Americans of harder times ahead, but assures the soundness of the US banking system.

30 days
-The expected time to retrieve the estimated 200,000 liters of industrial fuel and 10 metric-ton toxic endosulfan trapped in the sunken Princess of the Stars (threatening to pollute the Sibuyan Sea.) The projected cost of retrieval is $7.5 million (P318 million.)

87 drums
-Number of missing drums of toxic toluene diisocyanate (apart from the hazardous 10 metric tons of endosulfan and ship fuel in the Princess of the Sea) that need retrieval from another ship, M/V Ocean Papa, also grounded by Typhoon Frank.

-Central Luzon’s number of dengue fever cases, a rise of 273% from last year’s number with two reported deaths as of July 21, 2008.

$1.42 billion
-Total remittance of OFW’s in May 2008, a 15.5% increase from last year’s. This is accompanied by the exodus of 533,945 Filipinos, a 39.5% rise in the first five months of 2008 who seek jobs abroad.

$145.59 million
-The amount of foreign investments withdrawn from the Philippines in June, 2008—a reversal to last year’s inflow investments totaling $871.41 million which entered the country. A total of $417 million from foreign investors left the country since Jan. 2008. =0=