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PIA Press Release

Duque says dengue deadlier than A/H1N1

by Lyndon Plantilla

Quezon City (5 June) -- Influenza A (H1N1) cases maybe rising, but there are other deadlier diseases that people should look out for, the Department of Health warned Friday.

At the Friday Balitaan sa Rembrandt, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said Dengue fever has killed 57 in country while A/H1N1 has none.

The A/H1N1 strain that struck the Philippines is a milder form compared to the strains in Mexico and other affected countries.

Confirmed A/H1N1 cases may have reached 33 with the addition of 4 new cases as of June 5.

But according to Duque, that number is minimal as compared to the 6,537 cases of Dengue that DOH has recorded since January.

Duque explained that the changing climate has shortened the incubation period of the dengue virus: from 12 days, it was cut down to seven.

The dengue virus carrying mosquitos have become hyper-active; even small ones are biting already.

As far as Dengue fever is concerned, Duque said DOH is keeping an eye on the National Capital Region particularly in CAMANAVA, Cebu, Davao and Dagupan where most cases are coming from.

Aside from A/H1N1 and Dengue, Duque said the public should also watch out for typhoid fever, cholera and amoebiasis which people can get from contaminated food and drinking water.

Another killer is leptospirosis which targets the liver.

Leptospirosis can be obtained from prolonged immersion in flood waters contaminated by urine from infected rats.

Microbes causing Leptospirosis enter the wounds and other openings in the legs.

Duque is expecting that the number of A/H1N1 cases will rise in coming days because of the on-going contact tracing as well as undisturbed international travel.

One of the 4 new confirmed cases is another student of the De La Salle University (DLSU), a 17 year-old male, who has no history of travel.

He manifested mild acute febrile respiratory symptoms on June 2 and consulted a doctor on June 3 heeding the DLSU officials’ advice to its students when it suspended all its classes in Taft.

He is presently confined in a health facility and recovering well.

"The three DLSU cases are responding well to their treatments and do not even have fever anymore, including the latest case. Contact tracing though is still in progress," Duque said.

Duque reiterated that DLSU is the only school that is on a voluntary ten-day suspension due to A (H1N1) at the moment.

No other school has approached the Department of Health (DOH) with the same predicament and plan.

The three other cases all have a history of travel: all came from the United States and one of them is a 29 year-old female foreigner.

She arrived on June 1 and developed fever and cough shortly thereafter.

The rest are siblings, a 9 and a 7 year-old, both females, who arrived in the country on June 3.

They became ill on June 1 and were screened on arrival and were subsequently brought to a health facility by the Bureau of Quarantine.

All three are recovering from their illness in health facilities.

As far as the first positive case at the Asian Development Bank, Duque assured the public that the DOH is closely coordinating with bank.

ADB has issued its own guidelines to prevent the spread of A (H1N1) among its employees and has been updating the Department on the condition of the positive case.

Twelve contacts have been traced who have mild respiratory symptoms and are now awaiting laboratory results.

"We stress that only those who will qualify as CUOs including close contacts of confirmed cases will be tested and will receive treatment for free," Duque said.

Duque explained that with the heightened awareness of the public on the novel influenza virus, more people are getting anxious to get themselves tested. "Government needs to implement a clear protocol that prioritizes the treatment and management of A(H1N1) cases, particularly people at high risk," Duque said.

At present DOH includes the following high risk individuals as priority: 1) those who have flu-like symptoms and have recently traveled from affected countries; and 2) symptomatic individuals who were known close contacts of confirmed cases.

Since May 1, 2009, the DOH has monitored a total of 450 CUOs. Of these, 33 are positive A(H1N1) cases, 76 have pending laboratory results, and 341 are negative for A(H1N1) and have been discarded.

There are 36 new Cases Under Observation (CUOs) as of June 5.

In their latest report dated June 3, the World Health Organization reported 19,273 cases and 117 deaths from 66 reporting countries. (PIA) [top]

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