DOH: Around 126k dengue cases logged so far ‘lower’ compared to past five years

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) -- The country has logged 125,975 dengue cases nationwide from Jan. 1 to Sept. 9 of this year, so far lower compared to cases in the past five years, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday

“Currently cases are plateauing and we have an average of 5,000 cases reported per week since mid-June 2023,” said Angelica Garcia, supervising health program officer of the DOH Epidemiology Bureau, at the Dengue Forum 2023.

However, data showed a continuous uptrend in cases over the past six weeks in Cagayan Valley .

The Cordillera Administrative Region,Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Central Luzon, Metro Manila, and Caraga have also shown an increase in cases in the last three to four weeks, mostly from the Luzon area, Garcia added.

Despite the plateauing dengue cases, the DOH is not shutting down the possibility of an uptick in cases due to the rainy season.

The viral infection is caused by the dengue virus transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Wet weather conditions and stagnant water are ideal for mosquitoes to hatch their eggs.

“We still monitor the trends closely throughout the rainy season as cases may increase due to late reporting,” Garcia explained.

The agency said minors remain the most affected age group, accounting for 70% of the total cases. In 2023, cases are equally distributed among male and females.

Stakeholders present at the forum asked the DOH about its plans on vaccination against dengue, following the suspension of its dengue immunization program in 2017.

The DOH recognized the important role of vaccination in preventing infection and severe disease and providing protection to people.

“We would like to have better studies before we can administer yung ating vaccination and also have in place yung monitoring po ng ating mga adverse events following immunization para ma-monitor natin if ever we will be rolling out vaccination for dengue,” Garcia said.

[Translation: We would like to have better studies before we can administer the vaccination and also have in place the monitoring of adverse events following immunization so we can monitor if ever we will be rolling our vaccination for dengue.]

She said the health promotions bureau will be ready to study how best to encourage the public to get their shots, should it decide to introduce immunization.

“We would like to encourage the improvement of our surveillance for dengue," Garcia added. "The data that we will gather through our surveillance will help us better study our dengue situation in the Philippines and clinical picture in the Philippines that can inform if ever vaccination strategies."

Most dengue cases do not have warning signs but common symptoms include fever, headache, body pain, vomiting and rashes.

The DOH encourages the public to practice the 5S: search and destroy mosquitoes, self-protect, seek consultation, support fogging in outbreak areas and sustain hydration.