DOH warns vs dengue, influenza-like illnesses after typhoons ravage some PH provinces

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2020 06:26 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2020 07:12 PM

Residents in Zone 4, Barangay Damurog in Alcala, Cagayan receive relief goods from a collective of Overseas Filipino Workers on November 18, 2020, amid muddied pathways left by the flood brought by Typhoon Ulysses. Apart from the way to the barangay remains caked in up to shin-deep mud, the way to Zone 4 remains littered with debris, making relief delivery difficult. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) Thursday warned against the possible outbreak of dengue, leptospirosis, and other waterborne, influenza-like illnesses (WILD) following the onslaught of typhoons in recent weeks. 

The DOH, in a statement, said the department was on “heightened surveillance,” adding that the public should watch out for the so-called WILD diseases. 

“We are very wary of possible outbreak of communicable, waterborne and vector-borne diseases after disasters, lalo pa ngayong may pandemiya na maaring magdulot ng (most especially during the pandemic, it could cause) complex situation,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. 

Stagnant floodwater is where mosquitoes thrive, and may also contain leptospira bacteria, which causes leptospirosis, according to the health department. 

The interruption of clean supply of water in typhoon-hit areas, most especially in evacuation centers, the DOH said, could also cause food and water contamination that could bring other illnesses such as cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, amoebiasis, hepatitis A, and acute gastroenteritis, among others. 

The agency urged the public to observe sanitation measures, such as proper washing of hands, disinfection, and minimum health protocols against COVID-19 to at least prevent these diseases. 

“Sa ganitong pagkakataon, mas mainam pa rin po ang mga non-pharmaceutical interventions gaya ng palagiang paghuhugas ng kamay at pag-didisinfect ng mga bagay na madalas hinahawakan o high-touch surfaces, at observing proper cough etiquette,” Duque said.

(During these times, non-pharmaceutical interventions such as disinfection of surfaces and washing of hands, among others, are better.)

“Kasama rin dito ang pagbabakuna for vaccine-preventable diseases, pagsusuot ng masks, pagsisiguro na malinis ang inuming tubig, at pagpapanatili ng kalinisan ng kapaligiran upang maiwasan ang flu and other infections.” 

(This includes vaccination for vaccine-preventable diseases, wearing masks, ensuring there is clean water to drink, and clean surroundings to prevent the flu.)

Vigilance in evacuation centers for diseases 

No evacuee has tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, the DOH said, citing its Health Emergency Management Bureau.

But Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro on Wednesday said an evacuee already tested positive for the disease, adding that the patient’s close contacts and family members were swab-tested and tested negative. 

The evacuee is currently staying at an isolation facility, while the close contacts are also in isolation, Teodoro said. 

The DOH’s memorandum No. 2020-0318, or the interim guidelines on the prevention and control of COVID-19 during emergency evacuations states that the screening, triage, and evaluation of evacuees comprise the specified measures in managing evacuation centers. 

There should be “heightened vigilance” at evacuation centers, according to Duque. 

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“May isinasagawang symptom screening at clinical and exposure assessment of evacuees. Pinaiigting din dapat ang promotion at access sa water, sanitation and hygiene, ang pagkakaroon ng vector control, at ang pag-attend sa mga may sakit,” he said. 

(We have conducted screening at clinical and exposure assessment of evacuees. We should ramp up the promotion of clean water access, sanitation and hygiene, vector control, and attention to the needs of those who are sick.)