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Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Dengue Fight: From Personal Vigilance to Collective Resilience

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Ever wondered why getting dengue again can be worse?

Dealing with dengue fever as a family is a difficult journey marked by fear, financial strain, and constant worry. Watching a loved one suffer from fever, joint pain, and exhaustion is heart-wrenching, with the uncertainty of their recovery adding to the stress. Mounting hospital bills and draining savings compound the financial burden.

Additionally, the persistent fear of another family member contracting the virus from mosquitoes exacerbates the anxiety. Every mosquito bite feels like a potential threat, leading to frantic efforts to get rid of any standing water where they could breed. In the middle of it all, there is the mental toll of living under the constant shadow of dengue fever.

Dengue poses a unique challenge as it can infect individuals a multiple times, with a second infection often proving more severe due to a phenomenon known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). In ADE, antibodies from a previous infection inadvertently assist a new strain of the virus in entering immune cells and replicating. Unlike diseases where immunity provides protection against reinfection, dengue’s various strains complicate the immune response. Normally, our immune systems retain memory of past infections, enabling swift responses.

Dengue has four different strains, and even though we become immune to the one we were infected with, that immunity might not last long against the other three. This means the risk of getting dengue again, especially during an outbreak, is high.

Dengue cases surge in several provinces

Dengue fever is endemic in the Philippines. The risk of transmission is highest during and immediately following the rainy season, which typically occurs May-November. Dengue fever is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of infection is often highest in urban and semi-urban areas.

Health authorities have reported elevated dengue fever activity in multiple areas in Central Visayas (Region VII), with 6,539 total cases reported in January 1 to May 25, 2024. This is compared to the 3,246 cases reported during a similar period in 2023. Bohol (2,434 cases) is the most affected, followed by Cebu (1,900 cases), Negros Oriental (1,086 cases), and Siquijor (282 cases).

Local health officials urge the public and local government to prepare for the surge in dengue fever cases in the coming months by remaining vigilant, keeping surroundings clean, and clearing potential mosquito breeding sites.

The Department of Health (DOH) is vigilant against a potential surge in dengue cases with the onset of the rainy season, expected to be intensified by La Niña. DOH emphasized the importance of remaining cautious as the weather transitions.

The Importance of Personal Risk Recognition

In the fight against dengue fever, the collective efforts of governments are undeniably vital. However, the importance of personal risk recognition cannot be overstated. Individuals play a crucial role in protecting themselves and their loved ones from this mosquito-borne disease by understanding and actively addressing the factors that contribute to dengue transmission.

Personal risk recognition begins with education and awareness. By familiarizing themselves with the symptoms of dengue fever – such as high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, and rash – individuals can detect the disease early and seek timely medical intervention. Early detection is key to effective treatment and can prevent the progression to severe dengue.

Another essential aspect of personal risk recognition is the identification and elimination of mosquito breeding sites. Stagnant water in containers, flowerpots, and discarded tires are common breeding grounds for mosquitoes. By regularly inspecting and removing these potential breeding sites in and around their homes, individuals can significantly reduce mosquito populations and curb the spread of dengue.

In addition to proactive measures to eliminate breeding sites, practicing preventive measures is crucial in reducing the risk of mosquito bites. This includes wearing long sleeves and pants, using mosquito repellents, and installing screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from entering living spaces. These simple yet effective strategies can help individuals minimize their exposure to mosquitoes, especially during peak mosquito activity periods.

Equally important is the prompt seeking of medical care upon recognizing dengue symptoms. Timely medical attention is essential for early diagnosis and appropriate management of the disease. By seeking medical care promptly, individuals can receive the necessary treatment to prevent complications and reduce the risk of severe dengue.

By understanding the importance of early symptom recognition, eliminating mosquito breeding sites, practicing preventive measures, and seeking timely medical care, individuals can empower themselves to protect against dengue and contribute to the collective effort in combating this disease.

Empowering individuals and communities through collaboration

Ongoing efforts by the government, supported by community programs, are crucial in the fight to prevent dengue. These initiatives focus on expanding educational campaigns and providing accessible tools and resources. Among these resources is “Iwas Dengue,” a dedicated platform aimed at heightening awareness about dengue fever. By enhancing educational opportunities and leveraging platforms like “Iwas Dengue,” individuals can become better equipped to recognize and mitigate dengue risks, thereby strengthening community resilience against this persistent threat.1.

The pressing need for collaboration and innovation is evident as we delve into the complexities of dengue infection. The first-ever Dengue Summit provides a platform to address these challenges head-on, advocating for new technologies like vaccination and innovative solutions to combat this relentless disease. It’s not just about responding to outbreaks; it’s about proactively preventing them and safeguarding communities against future threats.

The Dengue Summit aims to be an influential event. To align with United Nation’s Sustainable Goal 3, the summit is a crucial step towards a future where “Zero Dengue Deaths by 2030” becomes a reality.

With over 121 medical societies joining forces under the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), alongside more than 40 private partners, this summit is a testament to the collective determination to combat dengue. The aim is clear: to strengthen the integrated efforts of national and local governments in controlling outbreaks and preventing dengue-related fatalities. The urgency of this mission cannot be overstated, especially in light of the alarming statistics showing a spike in dengue cases.

Together, through collective effort and educational initiatives, we can turn the tide against dengue, ensuring a healthier and safer future for all.

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