Iloilo City dengue cases drop 29 percent but…

Dr. June Frances Umani explains the trends in dengue cases in Iloilo City. (JBAM photo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

Current data from the Iloilo City government suggests a downward trend in dengue cases compared to last year, but the looming La Niña poses uncertainty about whether this trend will continue.

Data from the City Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (CESU) of the Iloilo City Health Office (ICHO) from January 1 to June 1, 2024 (Morbidity Week 22), indicated a total of 176 cases.

This is 29.6 percent lower than the 250 cases logged within the same period in 2023 and 82.52 percent lower than the total number of cases last year (1,007). So far, there have been no dengue-related deaths.

There were also zero new cases logged within Morbidity Week 22 this year (May 26 to June 1, 2024), compared to 11 cases added in the same period last year (May 28 to June 3).

When broken down by district health center, Arevalo logged the highest number so far this year (56), followed by Jaro II and Molo (23 each), La Paz (22), Jaro I (20), Mandurriao (10), Santo Rosario (9), Tanza (8), and Lapuz (5).

Dr. June Frances Umani, Medical Officer IV of the Tanza District Health Center and the ICHO’s program coordinator for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, acknowledged the continued prevalence between 2022 and 2023.

This was despite the ‘three-year cycle’ trend usually observed in dengue infections, given that the 1,007 cases in 2023 were only a slight decrease from 2022 (1,092).

She noted that even with the recent extreme heat conditions during El Niño, infections have continued and may even thrive during the incoming La Niña.

“Before, dengue usually occurred during the rainy season, but now, throughout the year, January to December, there are cases. So, the public must be careful,” she said at a press briefing on Wednesday, June 5.

Umani advised the public to practice the ‘5S’ measures (Search and destroy mosquito breeding sites; Self-protective measures; Seek early consultation; Support fogging or spraying; Sustain hydration) recommended by national and international health authorities.

She said the ICHO has been distributing larvicide and coordinating with barangays to practice the ‘4:00 p.m. habit,’ in which areas are thoroughly cleaned where dengue-carrying mosquitoes may thrive.

“As early as now, we are coordinating with the barangays to clean their surroundings and giving out larvicides, so that if there are potential breeding sites, they can already apply it,” she said.

Dengue is an acute viral infection caused by mosquito bites, particularly by the Aedes aegypti species, characterized by its white spots and tiger-like stripes. They are considered ‘day-biters,’ attacking usually between 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Signs and symptoms include high-grade fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, pain behind the eyes, bodily weakness, skin rashes, nosebleeding, abdominal pain, vomiting, and black tarry stools.

Treatment includes providing paracetamol for fever, strict intake of sufficient water, and oral hydration salts to increase hydration.

Umani said that at times, they’ve advised patients to gargle instead of brushing to avoid bleeding gums, and to eat non-colored food so that their stools are properly monitored.

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