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Philippines Declares Dengue Outbreak a National Epidemic

AUG 08, 2019 | MICHAELA FLEMING
The Department of Health in the Philippines has announced that the nation’s dengue outbreak has been declared a national epidemic.

On Tuesday, August 6, 2019, the agency reported that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, MSc, made the declaration in order to improve response to the outbreak by allowing local governments to draw upon funds allocated for outbreak control in a quicker manner.

From January 2019 to July 20, 2019, the Philippines has recorded 146,062 cases of dengue and 622 deaths, a 98% increase from the same period in 2018.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the majority of cases in the current outbreak have been identified as dengue virus serotype (DENV) 3; however, all 4 DENV are present in the Philippines. Infection with 1 serotype does not provide protection against other serotypes and being infected by a different serotype put individuals at greater risk of developing severe dengue.

In announcing the declaration, the Department of Health reported that the agency is initiating a campaign to locate and destroy mosquito breeding sites immediately. The agency will work alongside other government agencies, local government units, schools, offices, and communities in the effort.

“It is important that a national epidemic be declared in these areas to identify where a localized response is needed, and to enable the local government units to use their Quick Response Fund to address the epidemic situation,” Duque said in the announcement.

On July 15, 2019, the Department of Health declared a National Dengue Alert urging health agencies to increase surveillance efforts and ramp up case management and outbreak response activities to be in line with recommendations issued earlier this year.

Dengue is endemic to the Philippines and the season peaks between the months of July and September, following the seasonal rains. According to a situation report issued by the WHO on July 25, 2019, the seasonal rains have been delayed this year and therefore the number of dengue cases is expected to rise significantly.

The WHO reports that the risk for the outbreak to spread to other countries in the region is assessed at low although travel-associated cases may occur.

The Associated Press reports that the Philippines is not the only nation being hit hard by the mosquito-borne disease this year.

Other Southeast Asian nations have also reported an upsurge in dengue cases in 2019. Malaysia has documented 62,421 cases through June 29, including 93 deaths, compared with 32,425 cases with 53 deaths reported during the same period last year. Over the same period, Vietnam documented 81,132 cases including 4 deaths, compared with 26,201 cases including 6 deaths during the same period in 2018.
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