DOH: Worry on dengue, not ebola

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

DESPITE the rising death toll in West Africa due to the Ebola outbreak that has alarmed the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Health in the region (DOH) has assured the public here is nothing to worry about this and focus should be on dengue instead.

On its current death count of 729 (as of July 27, 2014) by the WHO, Ebola has not reached the health department’s attention yet, said Emiliano Galban Jr., head of DOH-Northern Mindanao Health Promotion Unit.

“There is nothing to worry about since it has not reached the Philippines yet. As of now, it is still on the quarantine level,” Galban said, adding that, “what we should be worrying about right now is dengue.”


Dengue has been plaguing the country for almost a decade now affecting mainly children.

The rapid epidemic is caused by the transmission of the virus through a low-flying mosquito carrier specifically called, “Aedis aegypti,” which has been breeding in stagnant waters.

From January to July of this year, there have been 4,150 dengue cases with six deaths, prompting the DOH-10 to label the disease as “surging.”

“We can now say that dengue outbreak is a serious matter the people should be alarmed of. Ebola, has not reached the country yet, and the people should be more alert on the high cases [of dengue] the country is experiencing now,” Galban said.

A remedy to dengue

DOH-10 said previously that a vaccine has already been formulated that might remedy the rising dengue incidents every year.

“There is a vaccine actually but as to when it will be for public use, that we still do not know yet,” Galban said.

But he said the vaccine must be effective in fighting the four stages of dengue, otherwise it will just defeat its purpose.

“We are expecting the vaccine will come out this year because of the few pilot testing areas which saw progress because of it. But I guess they are also undergoing a few difficulties now,” Galban added.

DOH, however, does not want to give false hope to the public with the issue on the vaccine.

“There are still studies we have to undergo. The vaccine might not be that effective or whatsoever but the information that there is, moreover, is true,” he said.

Preparation for Ebola

In preparing for the possible entry of the ebola virus into the country, health advisories are also issued by the DOH national office to be distributed to the regional levels informing the people about it.

To avoid the spread of any viral disease, health organizations said preparation and prevention are the most important factor.

The practice of good hygiene is one preparation, said Tony Leachon, president of the Philippine College of Physicians and information director of the University of the Philippines, in an online publication.

The virus is transmitted through direct and personal contact with the infected patients. The WHO continually warns the public about the spread of the virus through a regular hand washing.

DOH has issued an infographic presenting pertinent information on the symptoms of a person infected with Ebola.

Flu, fever, headaches, body aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are some of the symptoms of ebola.

If the virus has further spread throughout the host’s body, the functions of the internal organs would be impaired.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 05, 2014.

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