On Tuesday, dengue fever (pronounced DENG-ee) was declared a national epidemic in the Philippines. The nation’s Health Secretary Francisco Duque III declared the emergency. With that declaration, local governments in the Philippines can use funds from the country’s Quick Response Fund. Hopefully, quick action will help communities overcome the outbreak.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection found in tropical countries worldwide. Symptoms can show up between three and 14 days after a mosquito bite. The disease causes joint pain, nausea, vomiting, and a rash. In severe cases, dengue leads to breathing difficulties and organ failure. Currently, there is no cure for dengue. Doctors and staff work to keep patients hydrated and comfortable, yet dengue can be fatal. Right now it is affecting much of Southeast Asia.
Cases of dengue in the Philippines have skyrocketed in 2019—a 98% increase from January through July 20, compared to the same time period in 2018. Reported instances totaled 146,062 this year. Sadly, the outbreak has caused 622 deaths.
According to the U.N.’s World Health Organization, nearby Malaysia registered 62,421 cases through June 29, including 93 deaths. A year ago, Malaysia had 32,425 cases with 53 deaths. Over the same period of time, Vietnam had 82,132 cases compared to 26,201 cases in 2018. Bangladesh is in its worst-ever outbreak of dengue fever. Fighting dengue in the entire region strains already overwhelmed medical systems.
The best known way to reduce the dengue’s spread is to identify and destroy mosquitoes at their breeding sites. Recognizing its epidemic status, the Department of Health in the Philippines plans to hit the disease head on. It is working with other government agencies, schools, and communities to eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Perhaps other countries will follow that lead.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. — Psalm 6:2
(Philippine Health Secretary Dr. Francisco Duque III displays a graph showing the decline of another disease outbreak in the country in the recent past. He declared the Philippines’ massive dengue outbreak to be a national epidemic on Tuesday Aug. 6, 2019. AP Photo)