City gov’t ‘confident’ in decreasing AGE, dengue cases

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The Iloilo City Health Office (ICHO) on Monday expressed confidence over the current decline of cases of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) and dengue in the city, but also stopped short of pronouncing that it has controlled these health problems.

ICHO data as of Oct 16, 2022 indicated that the city has 866 AGE cases, with 2 new cases over the weekend, and a current 7-day average of 3 new cases per day.

There are currently 20 active cases, from 15 barangays, but only 1 is still admitted to a hospital as of this writing.

Confirmed cholera cases in the city have remained at 32, with the latest a 4-year-old from Brgy. Guzman-Jesena in Mandurriao district reported on Oct 12, based on test results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.

AGE deaths also remain at 14, with the latest being a 28-year-old female from Brgy. Santo Niño Sur in Arevalo district, who died on September 20.

As to dengue, the ICHO reported a total of 962 cases this year, including 4 actual confirmed cases, 606 probable cases, and 352 suspected cases.

The 606 probable cases are also being treated as actual dengue cases, as they present symptoms, and test positive for presence of antibodies commonly found in patients having the same disease.

Same as AGE, the dominant age group is those aged 1 to 10 years old, with 257 males and 257 females.

These include Immunoglobulin G or IgG via Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or ELISA (140 cases), IgM via ELISA (87), both IgG and IgM via ELISA (70), and NS1-Ag (309).

ICHO chief Dr. Annabel Tang noted that dengue has been slowing down amid the rise in AGE cases in recent months but did not state any correlation between the two.

“Miss Dengue may have been cooperating, because she has been overpowered by [AGE], and also the current [suspected] African Swine Fever [in Iloilo province],” said Tang.

While the current AGE trends may be promising, ICHO doctor Roland Jay Fortuna said that they cannot confirm whether AGE has been controlled, citing the continued lack of access to safe water and open defecation practices.

“If we cannot address these factors, we cannot say that we have [completely] controlled the spread [of AGE and cholera]. The mayor has been meeting with [Metro Pacific Iloilo Water] for safe access to drinking water, that is our current priority,” Fortuna stated.

Cholera vaccines have been administered to 305 persons based on an allocation for 475 persons of the 1,000 doses of the bivalent ShanChol made by Sanofi India.

This vaccine was allocated for those who either have tested positive for cholera, have had close contact with cholera cases, or have accessed wells with water that tested positive for cholera.

While ShanChol was the preferred vaccine as it can be administered to those as young as 1 year old, Fortuna said they have exhausted their allocation as this was also being bought by Bacolod City as well as Cebu province, and areas from the National Capital Region.

The city government has pressed ahead to buy 2,000 courses of OraVax, another oral vaccination that can be administered at a ratio of 1 course, equal to 3 doses, to 1 person.

They have also received up to 2,462 10-liter bottles of water, which Tang says has been continuously distributed to affected areas.

Most of the water refilling stations which were closed down due to sanitation violations related to the AGE outbreak have now reopened according to the ICHO.

There are still 24 more deep wells to be condemned as of this writing, with 3 testing positive for cholera and the remaining 21 for aeromonas, which can also cause AGE, cholera, and other bacterial diseases.

Tang also added that they have continued misting operations in places known or suspected as breeding sites for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.