20 January 2008

Philippine Dengue in 2007

This is Natalie Feist, a lovely young lady of 15, an only daughter, and youngest among three siblings. She was a victim of Dengue last January 2. Her sickness started with mere stomach ache which later progressed to malaise and fever. She's studying in Australia and was visiting her family in the Philippines last December. Perhaps because she was more Australian than Filipino, only the Sydney Morning Herald carried the news of her untimely demise.

Then there's also 12-year old Margie Manicad and 3-year old Katrina Dabon of Cebu City. Both were also killed by deadly Dengue. From January to December 5, 2007, there were already 40 deaths from Dengue in Cebu City, up from 32 deaths recorded in the whole 2006, according to the city's assistant epidemiologist.

How bad are the dengue numbers in 2007? (see update below)
Nationwide, at least 40,538 dengue fever cases were recorded as of November 17, an all-time high for the country, said Dr. Enrique Tayag of the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) of the Department of Health.

This year's number of cases is 18.7 percent higher than what was recorded in the same period in 2006.

"This is the worst dengue year for the Philippines so far," Dr. Tayag told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview Thursday night. [SunStar, 21 Dec 2007]

The second worst year will probably be 1998, when there were 35,648 cases and 514 deaths. Most of those who got sick were children between 1 and 9 years old.

Here are two reasons why Dengue continues to haunt us:
  1. There is still NO dengue vaccine or drug available - vaccine candidates are still in phase I and phase II testing and the Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative (PDVI) started in 2003 are still working. Ribavirin and mycophenolic acid treatments are likewise in the testing phase and are not yet commercially available.

  2. Poor mosquito control - a study (Dr. Milagros Mahilum, 2005) done in Cebu cited that while most people are aware that dengue is transmitted by mosquitoes, very few knew that a virus is the cause of the disease. As such, the study said that this might be one of the reasons why people do not follow the instructions to reduce mosquito-breeding sites. In local town units and barangays, there is really no intensive effort to search for mosquito larvae which can breed in clear and stagnant water found in drums, basins, old tires, discarded plastic bags, flower vases, and tin cans.

Recently, Prof. Michael Tan of the UP anthropology department raised the issue on plastic bags in one of his columns:
When plastic bags clog drains, they also create stagnant pools of water that become a resort for mosquitoes and other disease-causing insects. I’m wondering if the rise in dengue in the Philippines might have something to do with the plastic bags in our rivers and creeks.

When one gets dengue, survival is usually a matter of luck. People who get less virulent forms of the virus usually recover, and those who get the more virulent forms have a tougher time fighting. While hospital confinement still cannot deliver a definitive treatment, doctors try to manage dengue cases by supportive therapy. They give patients lots of fluids, and monitor blood counts. Most of the time, doctors rely on their patients' immune systems to destroy and contain the dengue virus. But sometimes, when the virus is really tough, or when the patient gets into the hospital at a very late stage, blood vessels are already harmed and blood pressure drops. These patients go into shock and die. Young people are mostly the victims.

So, while we impatiently await the dengue vaccine and the drug that will destroy the dengue virus, we must all work together and intensify efforts to eliminate all possible breeding places of mosquitoes.

UPDATE: The final numbers are in! There were a total of 45,350 dengue cases and 416 dengue deaths reported in 2007. This is the worst dengue year ever for the Philippines.

How we wish we can also be better in the prevention aspect as we are good with counting dengue cases and dengue deaths.

8 reactions:

Aice said...

your welcome,

I really like visiting your blog every now and then... because its very informative..

Dengue: my sis was one of the victim and luckily she survive, she was in the hospital for two weeks... bottles of dextrose was used and biogesic... also this herbal leaves called "tawa-tawa" in our province really helps too.

by the way, did you made this blog? ^_^ hope you don't mind me asking... am just curious.

siu said...

Doc, i'm glad you're blogging on dengue. One of our staff just lost a child to dengue last November.
A lot of people here in cebu are claiming that if the victim is given a drink from an herb called "mangagao" (i think its gatas gatas in luzon) this would boost the immune system and fight off the virus. The child who died wasnt able to drink it.
I suppose you might be aware of this, and i look forward to your comment. thanks.

Dr. Emer said...

Here's my lengthy reply. I am sorry to hear about your staff's loss. Kindly extend my sympathies.

nikki said...

Education is the key talaga sa Dengue control since there is no cure yet and it has claims so many lives everyday. If people know what causes it, how it causes the infection and what we should do to prevent the infection, I'm sure bababa ang mga Dengue cases natin.

jane said...


I am Jane Paras, also a Filipino. Well, I had just viewed this website beause I'm doing a research paper about dengue cases in Philippines.

Sad to say, I AM ALSO A VICTIM BUT A SURVIVOR OF DENGUE. It was 1997 when I had possessed strange symptoms. I'm just 4 years old that time. I had been under observation for several days then, I was shocked when the result of my blood test was POSITIVE in dengue infection. Luckily, I survived.

I feel sorry for what happened to Natalie Feist... I hope that she was as lucky as me....


bayi said...

Dengue is a major problem in Malaysia. And it's mainly due to apathy. Residents don't check their compounds for stagnant water. Factories leave empty bottles, old tyres, etc. in the open. Health authorities are understaffed for effective enforcement. The government is half-hearted in its education drives.

The result? I hear about a case among people I know every week or two. A number of my staff have been down with dengue.

Anonymous said...

mangagaw or tawatawa duznt really help at all..i think the medical field duznt even consider it as a treatment or sumthn..just be alert and keep your surroundings clean..and if there are symptoms go for a check up right away...it's now or never :)

Anonymous said...

paki alert naman ang manila, dami nilang kaso ng dengue last 37th week or later..... that we alone lang 5 cases ang namatay dun! 3 sa san lazaro(1 sa tundo bgry128, 1 sa quiapo muslim na bata at 1 sa antonio rivera bgry243 o 244 sa m.hizon elem school) 1 sa infant jesus sa sampaloc(taga calamba st. sa ramon magsaysay high school nag aaral) 1 sa ospital ng maynila(taga resedencias de manila sa pandacan)...... at isa pa dyan sa lugar ng san miguel sa malacanang palace 2 namatay dyan nung month ng june or july, until now may mga cases pa rin dyan. naka news blackout ang city gov't ng manila ayaw nilang palabasin na madaming kaso, ang pinalalabas nila malki ang binaba ng kaso sa manila.....please pay attention on this cases ma double check naman nyo yan sa mga hospital na binanggit ko.......