Climate change among reasons behind dengue outbreak: expert

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2019 05:11 PM

Climate change among reasons behind dengue outbreak: expert 1
A resident of Barangay Tirona watches as a man fumigates the area in General Trias, Cavite as part of government-led anti-dengue efforts in the area. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News file

MANILA -- Climate change is one of the reasons behind the rising number of dengue cases in the Philippines, an infectious diseases expert said Sunday.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Department of the San Lazaro Hospital, said the dengue situation worsened in the country, as well as other Southeast Asian countries, due to climate change.

Climate change creates a favorable condition for many vector-borne diseases, including dengue, Solante said, explaining that warming temperatures shorten the time it takes for a mosquito to become a biting adult.

“Climate change, nabubulabog ang mosquito. They go from one place to another and they always look at an area that is conducive to breed,” the doctor said.

Solante added nations in this region are tropical areas, which provide many breeding areas for mosquitoes.

“Our region, in tropical areas like Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, these are countries na year-round ang dengue. 'Di gaanong mainit, 'di gaanong malamig,” he said.

He added: “Wala na tayong seasonal episode ng increase ng dengue... 'Yung kapaligiran natin where the mosquito loves to breed, sa daming breeding areas, it just takes 2 to 3 days for the breeding area to be immensely populated with mosquitoes.”

Here in the Philippines, heavy rains aggravated the spread of dengue, Solante said.

The expert believes high population density is also a risk factor, noting that the more people there are in a particular place, the more garbage is produced.

“The density of people living in an area is very high and more susceptible na makakuha ng dengue, lalo mga children from 5-9 years old,” he said.

Florante Clarita, barangay administrator of Barangay Payatas in Quezon City, agreed, saying: “Siguro dahil napakalaki ng Payatas. We’re about 300,000 na po tayo ngayon. Isa 'yun sa mga factors kaya napakalaki ng turnout ng patients.”

Currently, Barangay Payatas has the most number of dengue cases in Quezon City recorded this year.

Solante said Filipinos must practice proper waste segregation and disposal.

He noted that mosquitoes can lay eggs in any space or container that can hold stagnant water — bottle caps, crumpled paper, gutters, trash cans, old rubber tires, even potted plants, among others.

“We need to really reexamine ang part ng pagkolekta ng basura. Maski sa bahay, dapat maglinis talaga. There’s no time to be complacent now,” the expert told ABS-CBN News.

Solante said a person can be infected with the dengue virus as many as four times in his or her lifetime.

“Apat 'yan. If you get the first dengue, meron ka pang tatlo. It may be milder na, but the fact that you have that, you can increase the risk of transmission to others,” he said.

That is why, for Solante, it is important to prevent first and foremost the spread and transmission of the dengue virus.

This can be done by emptying water storage containers, cleaning the insides of potted plants or pet bowls and changing the water cleaning drains and gutters, and disposing of unused containers and objects that can accumulate water.

On Sunday, members of ASEZ, the World Mission Society Church of God’s volunteer group, conducted a cleanup drive in Barangay Socorro in Quezon City.

Composed of around 200 university students and volunteers from the Philippines and South Korea, the group aims to reduce crime, following the principle that “the world changes when a person changes.”

Aside from the zero crime target, Pastor James Choi believes cleaning up the surroundings will also reduce the risk of diseases in the area.

“We want to clean environment. This is a small action, but we believe that if we change in small things, we can change the whole world... Through this cleanup campaign, we can help make a beautiful environment, also through our actions, other residents will realize the importance of environment cleanup,” Choi said.

“Nagseset kami ng example, we want to inspire other youth din,” added ASEZ member Blessing Cruz.

Two truckloads of trash, mostly plastic bottles, plastic straws and food wrappers, were collected during the cleanup.

Solante also underscored the importance of early recognition and diagnosis of dengue among Filipinos.

“Anybody who has fever, 1-2 days fever lang, magpatingin na. Akala lang nila ordinaryong lagnat. Some patients 4th day may rashes na. Akala nila 'pag walang rashes, wala pang dengue. But the rash will be there 4th o 5th day. Sometimes it might be too late,” Solante said.

“The complication of dengue, which is death, can be prevented,” he added.