4 Practical, Department of Health-Approved Tips To Protect Your Family From Dengue
It’s time to implement the 4Ss in our households!
The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed it: the Philippines is facing a national dengue epidemic. Dengue is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a mosquito-borne viral infection that causes severe flu-like illness. In serious cases, dengue can also cause potentially deadly complications.
What causes dengue?
Dengue is transmitted to humans through the bites of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are carriers of the dengue virus (DEN). When a mosquito bites a person with dengue virus in their blood, it becomes infected with DEN. Later on, when it bites a healthy person, it can transmit the virus to them.
What are the symptoms to look out for?
Dengue causes flu-like symptoms that lasts for two to seven days. According to WHO, "dengue fever usually occurs after an incubation period of four to 10 days after the bite of the infected mosquito."
High fever (40°C) is usually accompanied by at least two of the following symptoms: headaches, pain behind eyes, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, pain in the joints, bones, or muscles, and rashes. Dangerous symptoms to watch out for are severe abdominal pain, persisting vomiting, bleeding gums, vomiting blood, rapid breathing, and fatigue or restlessness. (Source: WHO)
However, in some cases of mild dengue fever, it is important to note that teens and children may also show no signs or symptoms.
The Dengvaxia Controversy
WHO lists Dengvaxia (CYD-TDV) as a licensed vaccine developed by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.
In a press release in 2017, WHO finds that "the dengue vaccine CYD-TDV, sold under the brand name Dengvaxia, prevents disease in the majority of vaccine recipients, but it should not be administered to people who have not previously been infected with dengue virus."
It is suggested that only people 9 years old and above, and have had a history of dengue, should be given Dengvaxia. It is important to note that people who have not had dengue before must not be vaccinated with Dengvaxia.
However, in the Philippines, there was a major controversy with Dengvaxia, after it was implemented to over 800,000 students without pre-vaccination screening. According to a statement by Sanofi Pasteur in 2018, around 10 percent of those students who were immunized, but had no prior dengue infection, had faced a “severe disease”.
Despite this controversy, doctors and public health practitioners urge the public to still get their children vaccinated—they remain safe and effective, when implemented properly. One of the many vaccines that absolutely all children must get is the Polio vaccine, which is the only way to prevent Polio, a life-threatening disease.
Dengue in the Philippines
Over 1,272 people have died due to dengue as of September 21, 2019. WHO reports that there has been a cumulative number of 322, 693 cases in 2019 alone. Numbers have grown exponentially higher compared to 2018, where there were 149, 849 cases with 774 deaths reported.
In light of this, the DOH urges Filipinos to follow the 4S strategy. “The rains have come and it only takes about two weeks for mosquitoes to breed and fully mature into dengue-causing mosquitoes, hence it is time to implement the 4S strategy in our households,” quipped Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Metro moms, let's be proactive in protecting our families! Here are the 4Ss—practical, DOH-approved ways on preventing dengue:
1. Search and Destroy Mosquito-Breeding sites
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water. To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your environment, make it a habit to remove still water! Check on your roof gutters, air conditioner drip trays, potted plants, and fountains. Don’t forget to regularly change water in your vases, bath tubs, and pet water bowls as well. Lastly, maintain a clean environment by getting rid of old tires, unused containers, and other things that can accumulate stagnant water.
2. Employ Self-protection Measures
Protect your family from mosquito bites by using repellents like lotions. If there is an outbreak in your area, it’s best to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when heading outdoors.
3. Seek Early Consultation
When your child experiences fever for over two days, don’t think twice about contacting a physician. Early consultation is the key.
4. Support fogging and spraying if there’s an outbreak
Fogging is a technique to kill insects using pesticide spray directed by a blower. If dengue cases in your community have increased for two consecutive weeks, support fogging and spraying initiatives.
For emergencies, you may call the following DOH Dengue hotline numbers: (02)-711-1001, (02) -711-1002, 0920-110-7498, and 0915-772-5621