DOH ready for 'mysterious' respiratory disease

By Sheila Crisostomo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 07 2012 04:26 AM | Updated as of Jul 09 2012 07:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has prepared plans for cases like the “mysterious” respiratory disease that had claimed the lives of 61 children in Cambodia, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday.

“For cases like this, the DOH has prepared plans, and usually, the National Epidemiology Center is the responsible agency within the department while the Bureau of Quarantine increases its surveillance for such disease crossing the borders,” the DOH said in a statement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had warned Philippines and other neighboring countries about the disease, which has “neurological symptoms.”

The DOH said the alert sent by the WHO and Cambodia Ministry of Health was in line with the International Health Regulations wherein a “country announces a mysterious disease, neighboring countries are forewarned to act appropriately.”

“We are advising the public to understand the risk of travel to Cambodia and to withhold unnecessary travel to this country. People going to the area should practice necessary precautions,” the DOH noted.

The agency added that if one came from the affected area and manifests symptoms of the disease, “you must report to public health officers immediately.”

The DOH alerted the Bureau of Quarantine to closely monitor travelers from Cambodia and Thailand following reports that an unknown respiratory disease had killed 61 children in Cambodia.

But DOH Undersecretary Dr. Ted Herbosa said there is no need yet to place in quarantine travelers from Cambodia who will manifest any illness upon arrival in the country’s airports.

“There is no cause for alarm. The monitoring is just part of our contingency measures. The WHO had issued the advisory so that people can be forewarned... that there is this thing there,” he said in a telephone interview.  – With Rudy Santos