The number of dengue cases is soaring all over the Philippines.
An epidemic is now reported in 15 out of 17 regions nationwide. With the certificate of the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia permanently revoked in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) is urgently campaigning for every citizen to take a proactive role in their home and community in controlling the mosquito population.
The license of Dengvaxia was revoked in February 2019 because of lack of evidence on its effectiveness, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a media briefing. But according to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dengvaxia is 80-percent effective against “outcomes of symptomatic virologically confirmed dengue, hospitalization for dengue, and severe dengue” among children 9-16 years old.
With no vaccine in sight, the DOH is urging the public to follow the 4S strategy: Search and Destroy mosquito-breeding sites, employ Self-Protection measures, Seek early consultation, and Support fogging/spraying in hotspot areas. Fogging is most effective when done at dusk, or the hours when mosquitoes are most active and looking for food.
Self-protection includes wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and regularly using mosquito repellents. Babies and children must wear clothing that covers the arms and legs. Always cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
Follow the instructions on the mosquito repellent product. Reapply as directed. If you’re using sunscreen, apply insect repellent after the sunblock.
The CDC website advises that children under 3 should not use products that contain lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD). Do not apply insect repellent on your child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin. Spray insect repellent on your hands first before applying on a child’s face.
Control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors. Put screens on windows and doors and repair holes.
Inspect your home and remove water-holding containers indoors or outdoors.
To stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers every week.
Stagnant water will become breeding areas. Ensure that gutters are always cleaned. Pet dishes must be washed daily. Avoid growing and keeping plants that attract mosquitoes, such as bromeliads.
Keep the home clean at all times as the naked eye cannot detect breeding grounds.
Instruct family members and household help to strictly follow the dengue prevention house rules. Yayas and others looking after your kids must also know which areas to avoid indoors and outdoors.
Mosquitoes live in dark places. The Aedes aegypti, which carries the dengue virus, is active from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and two hours after sunrise. Unfortunately, those are the hours children go out.
An adult Aedes aegypti mosquito is distinctively smaller than the typical mosquito. It is dark-colored, with distinct white markings on the legs and a white-striped thorax (the area below the head).