Dengue Cases Up in Metro Manila

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. The information contained in this entry is based on my readings and own personal experience. If you suspect that anyone in your household may have dengue, please see your doctor immediately.

I heard in the news quite recently that dengue cases are on the rise here in Metro Manila. Statistics from January to August 2006 show that cases have gone up 47%. The most number of cases occurred in Quezon City.

A good indication of the prevailing problem is the number of text messages I receive from co-parents at my son's school. There are more this year -- asking for prayers for boys who are in the hospital battling dengue. Thankfully, and by God's grace, all the boys have recovered. The boys have also been asked by the school to bring mosquito repellent (like Off Lotion or Spray) so they may continuously re-apply on their arms and legs all throughout the day while they are in school.

Dengue is caused by the Aedes Aegypti (or some spell it Aegyptae) mosquito, a mosquito that bites during the daytime and which has white lines on its legs. On the rare occasions that I am able to kill a mosquito that has already bit (or bitten?) or is about to bite me, I see that all of them have white lines on their legs. It can get pretty scary and I get paranoid and pray a lot.

My son Adi contracted dengue when he was 2 years old. We were at St. Luke's hospital for a week and he had to be transfused with one bag of plasma. During that time, Adi was so lethargic, hardly ate -- it was not a pretty sight. You wouldn't wish dengue (or Kawasaki Disease, for that matter) on anyone, even people you really dislike.

In the case of Adi, his platelets dropped drastically after the fever disappeared. If I remember correctly, the doctor attending to him said that that is quite usual. I guess that's what makes dengue so dangerous. If you think that it's an ordinary fever or sickness and the fever disappears, you relax falsely and that's when the platelets drop. That's probably one of the reasons why people die from dengue. They never got to the hospital on time.

There are 4 types or strains of dengue, I am made to understand, and once you have gotten sick from one type, you are immune from that type. Sadly, there are three more strains remaining and they say that each time you have it, the disease gets worse.

The best thing to do (if you can successfully do it) is to prevent getting the disease altogether. What can you do?

1. Wear long pants and long sleeve shirts if you can afford to.
2. Apply anti-mosquito/insect repellent all throughout the day.
3. Keep your body healthy. Exercise, eat well, and sleep right. You may get bitten but if your body is strong, it may not have an affect on you. If your resistance is low though, that's the start of trouble.
4. Do not store water in containers. Make sure you do not accumulate water in containers around your house or school or office. That's the perfect breeding place for the mosquitos. Check your gutters regularly to make sure that rain water does not accumulate and stay still there.
5. Bring your child or anyone in your household to the doctor for a check up if he/she has had a fever for 3 days. Go with your gut or instinct. Even if it hasn't been three days, if you sense that something is wrong, trust yourself. It is better to be safe than sorry.
6. Pray.

All this talk about dengue being on the rise, actually reminds me of this ad that the government and the Department of Health put out just a few months ago. It had the pictures of Gloria Arroyo and Secretary Duque plastered on it and it was trumpeting that infectious diseases (including dengue) were down so many percent. I irritatedly and silently said to myself: "Bati ba naman yon?" Are they claiming that due to their efforts and programs, they have brought down the number of infectious diseases? Would that be to their credit again? (Much like the peso everytime it appreciates but when it depreciates, it is due to market forces in the region?) So, what do they say about the rise in cases these days?

[By Angelica Viloria | Sunday, August 27, 2006]

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