DOH wants dengue outbreak declared in Central Visayas
CEBU CITY—With 3,076 cases and 24 deaths from dengue in Central Visayas in just over a month’s time, the Department of Health (DOH) has recommended the declaration of a dengue outbreak in at least nine towns and cities in the region.
Dr. Ronald Jarvik Buscato, the DOH dengue program coordinator for Region 7, urged local governments in the affected areas to declare a dengue outbreak since they had already “exceeded the epidemic thresholds for the number of cases” involving the mosquito-borne illness.
Among the areas that exceeded the thresholds are Lapu-Lapu City and Sibonga town in Cebu province; Tagbilaran City and the towns of Trinidad, Cortes, Dauis, Clarin and Loon in Bohol province, and Lazi town in Siquijor province.
The World Health Organization defines “epidemic threshold” as the critical number or density of susceptible hosts required for an epidemic to occur.
The threshold is used to confirm the emergence of an epidemic so that appropriate control measures can be stepped up.
Cases rose by 215%
Buscato explained that an increase of more than 10 percent in the average number of cases in the past five years was one factor considered when declaring an outbreak.
According to data gathered by the DOH Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit from Jan. 1 to Feb. 9 this year, the number of dengue cases and deaths in Central Visayas rose by 215 percent over the same period in 2018.
The DOH regional office in Cebu City has already sent out letters of recommendation to the concerned towns and cities for their local governments to declare a dengue outbreak.
Buscato said the spike in dengue cases in January came as a surprise because the health department expected the number to increase only in March or April, as in the case of the last dengue epidemic in Central Visayas in 2016.
“This is actually quite early,” he said.
Cebu City worst hit
Majority of the dengue cases in the region were in Cebu City with 390, including three deaths. The densely populated city was not among those that exceeded the epidemic threshold, although Buscato said it may be included if the number of cases continued to rise.
Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu province came in second with 299 cases and one death, followed by Mandaue City with 152 cases and one death.
Tagbilaran City in Bohol has 52 cases and two deaths.
With the spike in dengue cases, Buscato said the DOH was in the process of integrating the campaigns against measles and dengue in the region.
This means government health workers will include dengue in their house-to-house campaign intended to encourage vaccination against measles.
Buscato said the public should be made aware that dengue is as dangerous as measles.
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