SORSOGON CITY, 18June2013 (PNA) – The recent opening of classes, timed with the onset of rainy days, is causing worries among local health authorities over the possible increase of dengue cases in Sorsogon province.
There is a need to be more careful and vigilant this time that the children are out there in crowded schools while the rain that contributes largely to the spread of dengue virus is around, Dr. Edgar Garcia, head of the Provincial Health Office (PHO), said over the weekend.
PHO records, according to Garcia, registered at least 35 dengue cases in the province from January to May this year and although this number does not suggest an outbreak, local health authorities and the public “should not make this a reason to loosen our guard,” especially in the city where the most number of these cases came from.
He said that based on the same records, 29 confirmed cases of dengue have been recorded during the first five-month period of the year in six barangays of the city.
These barangays are Balogo, Bibincahan, Bitano, Guinlajon, Ticol and Talisay.
Outside the city, the other six cases were distributed among the municipalities of Castilla, Irosin, Juban and Magallanes with one each and Matnog, two, Garcia said.
Worried that this number of cases may rise due to the opening of classes and rains, Regina Gonzalgo, PHO health education program officer, said community level awareness campaigns have already been put in place to guide households, school officials and local government units (LGUs) in their course of actions toward dengue prevention.
Cleanliness of the surroundings is the first line of community defense and next is the 4S formula — which means Search and destroy (the breeding places of dengue mosquitoes), Self-protection, Seek early consultation (when suspecting dengue infection) and Say “no” to indiscriminate fogging (as an anti-mosquito activity).
Meanwhile, the regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) based in Daraga, Albay, according to Garcia, has already alerted LGUs in Sorsogon province and the rest of Bicol and advised them to be on close watch and ready for action.
Actions, however, should be based on the surveillance data on dengue that the DOH provides on a weekly basis.
The surveillance system uses electronic data capture to identify early trends in dengue infection rates and issues alerts.
During outbreaks, an active surveillance system is initiated and the Regional Epidemiological and Surveillance Unit (RESU) coordinates information exchange with LGUs.
Identification of possible outbreaks depends on timely reporting from sentinel sites and other hospitals.
DOH regional director Glorai Balboa, in instructions circulated among Bicol LGUs, said the surveillance data would enable local authorities to deduce trends or patterns, if there are any, on the frequency of occurrence of dengue and take action.
Hotspots or clustering of cases can be known in that data including the possibility of an outbreak.
“Whatever action they take, the DOH’s Center for Health and Development (CHD)-Bicol shall always extend assistance whenever necessary,” Balboa assured the LGUs.
According to Garcia, there is “clustering” when there are two or more dengue cases recorded in a barangay during a specific morbidity week.
A “hotspot,” on the other hand, is one where there are two or more suspected dengue cases for two successive weeks also in a barangay.
An “outbreak” is one where there is an excess number of cases in a given period than what is expected, he explained.
Across Bicol, the RESU has monitored from its sentinel sites about 330 cases of dengue during the first two months of this year.
RESU records obtained from government hospitals indicated that Albay had 116 cases; followed by Camarines Sur with 92; Catanduanes, 68; Sorsogon, 27; Masbate, 23, and Camarines Norte, four cases.
No outbreak has been reported in any area covered by these provinces, according to DOH-CHD. (PNA)