Climate change linked to dengue outbreak

“Because of the warming climate, the range or coverage of the mosquito is increasing.”

CLIMATE change is one of the contributing factors in the increase of dengue cases in the country, Thomasian public health specialist Alvin Rey Flores said.

“Because of the warming climate, the range or coverage of the mosquito is increasing. The constant rains that we experience can also contribute to the spread of the infection. This leads to increase number of breeding sites for the mosquito,” he said in an online interview with the Varsitarian.

Flores said the female Aedes aegypti mosquito seen in tropical areas such as the Philippines is the primary vector of the virus, pointing out that changes in weather and water shortages also affect the population of mosquitoes.

Doctor Jay Ron Padua, a specialist on pediatric infectious diseases, said there had been nine confirmed reported cases of dengue in the University, five of which were admitted between July and August.

There were also a total of 109 cases of acute viral illness suspected as dengue.
“From January to December, we see dengue. Pero tumataas kasi ang kaso during the rainy season. Kasi siyempre tag-ulan, [naiipon] iyong tubig, [kapag] hindi mo na-check, pwedeng pamugaran ng lamok,” Padua said.

The Department of Health declared dengue a national epidemic on August 6, 2019. As of August 30, the DOH epidemiology bureau recorded 208,917 reported dengue cases and 882 deaths from January 1 to August 10, 2019.

According to the World Health Organization, dengue fever is considered the fastest spreading and most critical mosquito-borne viral disease in the world.
Last August 26, a grade 8 student from the Junior High School succumbed to dengue after suffering high fever and stomach pain.

Padua said that everybody was at risk of getting the virus wherever dengue mosquitoes were present.

“Be it here in the campus or outside the campus, within Sampaloc, within Metro Manila, everybody is at risk… [E]ven the mosquito can travel with you in UV Express, or FX, so anywhere you can be bitten and you can develop,” Dr. Padua told the Varsitarian.

He said UST was taking action against the spread of the virus with the help of Facilities Management Office through search and destroy operations of mosquito habitats, larval trapping, and chemical misting.

Both the UST Health Service and Hospital are constantly reminding the Thomasian community to be alert and practice early seeking behavior.

“If you have these symptoms, if you have fever two days already, then get a consultation because you might be having dengue already,” Padua said.

Despite the increasing rates of dengue cases, Flores affirmed that the banning of Dengvaxia is not necessarily linked to the outbreak for there is still no comprehensive data on the long-term safety of the vaccine.

“The vaccine trials are still ongoing and previous [ones] have shown that there is a higher risk or chance of development of severe dengue among seronegative individuals,” Flores stated.

Last February, the anti-dengue vaccine was banned in the Philippines after its French manufacturer Sanofi Pastuer Inc. admitted that it might cause more severe symptoms to those who had not yet been infected by dengue.

Flores emphasized that although being infected by a certain strain type will provide immunization for that strain, it could also mean that subsequent infection would be more severe.

“The dengue virus has 4 serotypes (DENV1, DENV2, DENV3 and DENV4). There are reports that DENV-3 is the predominant strain this year, which was not common in the past years,” he told the Varsitarian.

Other solutions for dengue prevention according to Flores include adding Larviparous fish to water streams or ponds and adding certain bacteria such as Bacillus thruingiensis to breeding sites in order to kill mosquito larvae.

Further developments for dengue prevention are usage of Ovitrap ovicidal and larvicidal effect which prevent the next generation of mosquitoes from reaching adulthood, thus curbing the Aedes mosquito population. Jade Veronique V. Yap and Ma. Jasmine Trisha L. Nepomuceno 


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