Philippines declares dengue fever national epidemic after more than 600 deaths

Henrietta Strickland
August 8, 2019

M - A national dengue epidemic has been declared in the Philippines, where 622 people have died of the mosquito-borne disease since January and millions more are at risk, CNN reports.

Dengue incidence shot up 98 percent from a year earlier to 146,062 cases from January 1 to July 20, causing 662 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference in which he announced a "national dengue epidemic".

"It is important that a national epidemic be declared in these area to identify where a localized response is needed, and to enable the local government units to use their Quick Response Fund to address the epidemic situation". This is 71% higher compared to the same period in 2018 (6,128 cases). "This is really staggering. This really is staggering and going to be a record number", said Duque.

Dengue causes flu-like symptoms, including piercing headaches, muscle and joint pains, fever and full body rashes.

The outbreak follows a nationwide ban in February on the sale and distribution of the Dengvaxia vaccine, a dengue vaccine made by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur.

Dengvaxia is now the only dengue vaccination available on the market, but the World Health Organization recommends that it should only be given to those in high risk areas who have already been exposed to the virus.

As reported in Reuters, as authorities battle to contain a dengue outbreak that has killed more than 450 people this year, the Philippines is considering re-introducing a dengue vaccine whose use it halted because of links to the deaths of several children.

These spikes aren't isolated to just the Philippines.

Dengue epidemics have been declared in four central and southern regions of the country, which between them are home to roughly 20 per cent of the Southeast Asian nation's population - some 20 million people.

"The kit offers a simplified method of confirming the presence of dengue virus in a patient's blood, thus it can be used to detect dengue infections at the start of the fever", dela Peña said. This is one of the primary interventions to prevent and control dengue.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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