"This is the first time we're declaring a national alert".
Dengue cases in the Philippines have historically surged every three to four years, and the sharp increase this year is in line with expectations after a spike in cases nationwide in 2016, the country's Health Secretary Franciso Duque said in a statement. About 12,500 people die annually from the disease.
Despite the alert, Duque assured the public that there was no national epidemic in the Philippines.
Dengue induces fever in patients, and is a mosquito-borne viral infection. It is transmitted by a bite from an Aedes aegypti mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue strains.
This surge in dengue cases comes as the country is grappling with a nationwide measles outbreak, which authorities say has killed more people so far this year than all of 2018 and puts 2.6 million children at risk.
Duque reiterated that the 4S strategy remains the most effective way to prevent dengue cases and deaths.
Warning signs of severe dengue occur three to seven days after the first symptoms and include severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums, fatigue, restlessness and blood in vomit.
In addition to dengue, diseases like chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika have moved north as temperatures rise in the southern United States, inland Australia and coastal China and Japan, according to CNN.
The Capiz Epidemiological Surveillance and Response Unit (CESRU) of the Provincial Health Office found a 771-percent spike in dengue cases from January 1 to June 29, 2019.
Duque III said among the regions that have exceeded the epidemic threshold are MIMAROPA (Region IV-B), Western Visayas (Region VI), Central Visayas (Region VII), and Northern Mindanao (Region X). The national disaster relief agency has placed these provinces under watch.
This is 239 percent higher compared to the same period past year with only 2,172 cases and 41 deaths.
Dengue is a viral disease with no known vaccine or specific antibiotics.
"The incidence is not affected by the lower vaccination in the past few years and also we find no connection between the areas were dengue vaccination was given previously, and the number of cases that we're having now..."
However, a Sanofi regional director told a Philippine congressional panel in 2018 that the drug was safe for public use.
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