Iloilo City councilor latest dengue patient as disease continues to rise
ILOILO CITY –– A city councilor in this city is among the latest infected with dengue virus as cases of the mosquito-borne disease continue to increase.
Councilor Ely Estante was confined at the Iloilo Mission Hospital Monday evening after he sought a check-up for body rashes.
In a Facebook post, Estante, a former broadcaster, said his physician advised him to be confined after test results showed a below-normal platelet count.
The number of dengue cases in the city reached 718 with four deaths as of July 6.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. There is no known cure and can be fatal.
The infection triggers a severe flu-like illness often followed by a severe drop in an infected person’s platelet count.
The Department of Health (DOH) has declared a dengue outbreak in four of the five provinces of Western Visayas—Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, and Iloilo.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has also declared a national dengue alert due to the continued surge in the number of cases.
Western Visayas has the highest number of cases among 17 regions with 13,164 cases, followed by Calabarzon (11,474 cases), Central Visayas (9,199 cases), Soccsksargen (9,107 cases) and Northern Mindanao (8,739 cases).
The Iloilo provincial government is readying contingency measures amid the continued increase of dengue patients, which cannot be accommodated by the province’s lone provincial hospital and 11 district hospitals.
Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. has directed the preparation of tents to act as makeshift treatment centers.
He earlier met with administrators of private hospitals in Iloilo City to help accommodate the dengue patients.
Private rooms, conference halls, and hallways have also been converted into wards to accommodate patients.
The number of patients confined in government hospitals in Iloilo is more than triple the bed capacity of the hospitals.
As of July 12, at least 1,863 patients, including 851 dengue patients, were confined in the hospitals. This is about 316 percent of the total 615-bed capacity.
Classes in some schools have been suspended to give way to clean-up activities.
Students have also been advised to wear knee-high socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts.
Dr. Glen Alonsabe, Western Visayas epidemiologist, said they were expecting an increase in cases this year based on the cyclical pattern of the infection to the disease. But he said they did not expect the number of cases that have so far been recorded.
Alonsabe said the surge in the number of cases also occurred earlier compared to 2010 and 2016 when there was also a significant increase in dengue cases.
Health officials have repeatedly warned local governments and communities of a higher number of cases and the failure to sustain preventive measures including the clean up of potential breeding grounds of mosquitoes.
But several health workers said the outbreak could also be partly caused by the low immunization rate of school children due to the dengvaxia controversy.
The dengvaxia dengue immunization program was piloted in several areas, excluding Western Visayas, but the school-based program was suspended amid allegations that this caused deaths in several of those administered.
While there has been no confirmed death attributed to the vaccine, many parents and children refused or avoided immunization services for other diseases offered by government health centers.
“When we approach them for immunization, they ran away or refused because they said they might also die like those administered with dengvaxia,” a nurse in a municipal health center told the INQUIRER.
The nurse asked not to be identified being a government employee.
A municipal health officer on Panay Island, who also asked not to be identified, lamented that the dengvaxia controversy continued to affect years of sustained awareness and education programs to have children immunized.
Alonsabe said that while there was no dengue vaccination in Western Visayas, those who failed to get vaccinated for other diseases like measles could become vulnerable because vaccination helps boost the immune system from all diseases. /lzb
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