MULTIMEDIA

Love in the time of dengue in Calamba, Laguna

Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2019 09:46 PM | Updated as of Aug 16 2019 10:46 PM

A young girl hugs her mother as doctors conduct dengue testing on their blood samples at the Palo Alto covered courts in Canlubang Laguna, August 13, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

From April to May this year, the city of Calamba noticed a pronounced increase in dengue cases. Little did they know that this would eventually lead to a declaration of a state of calamity in the city. 

“Nagumpisa ito sometime in late April to May based on statistics and surveillance, based on incidents, nag increase ang cases ng dengue,” according to Calamba City Health Officer Dr. Dennis Labro, 

(This began late April to May, based on evidence gathered by the Provincial Health Office’s disease surveillance teams.)

The rise in dengue cases, coupled with other medical needs, threatens to deplete hospital resources.

Dengue patients share beds at the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Provincial District Hospital in Calamba, Laguna on August 13, 2019. The sheer number of patients threaten to overwhelm hospital facilities. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Compared to previous years where only an average of 600 cases were recorded in a year, the city has seen over 700 dengue cases in only the first seven months of the year. With the usual pattern of the disease in the country, dengue cases are expected to last until November. 

Labro says, “Sa buong buwan ng April, umabot na rin sa alert level.”

(During the whole month of April, dengue cases reached alert level.)

An alert level is raised when, on the average, there are more cases in the area compared to the past five years.

“Sa month of June and July, umabot na dun sa epidemic threshold, (In the months of June and July, the number of cases reached epidemic threshold) which prompted the city health office to inform the city disaster council about the epidemic,” Labro says. 

“Last July 18, and then the following day, 19, the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council requested that the Sangguniang Panglungsod (City Council) declare Calamba to be in a state of calamity." 

Students at the San Ramon Elementary School do their part in keeping the school premises clean and dry. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The outbreak is not limited to Laguna as the neighboring province of Cavite saw 27 deaths from January to August. This is double the number of dengue-related deaths in the previous year.

According to the WHO, severe dengue is the leading cause of serious illness and death among children in some Asian and Latin American countries. The global incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades. About half of the world’s population is now at risk.

In light of this, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has called on the public to follow the Department of Health’s 4S program.

Parents volunteer to put up treated mosquito nets at their children's classrooms. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The 4S program stands for “Search and destroy” mosquito-breeding sites, employ “Self-protection measures” (i.e. wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts as well as daily use of mosquito repellent), “Seek early consultation”, and “Support fogging/spraying” only in hotspot areas where an increase in cases is observed for two consecutive weeks to prevent an impending outbreak. 

The communities in Laguna have taken it to heart and are implementing these activities vigorously. Every weekend, the various barangays and towns do their share in fighting the outbreak.

Doctors from the local Department of Health (DOH) units conduct Dengue testing on blood samples taken from children with fever at the Palo Alto covered courts in Canlubang Laguna. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

In the case of Calamba, Labro asserts that although dengue control measures in the regions are proving effective in curbing the impact of the virus, whether or not the epidemic dies down is still up in the air. 

Currently, government initiatives to use an anti-dengue vaccine are still on hold. The people of Calamba and the Calabarzon region now fight dengue using the 4S Program. 

For now, improving community participation is their best hope in battling the disease. 

Jeanette keeps watch over her youngest child at their home in Calamba Laguna, Another one of her children recently recovered from dengue, and she says she is now more carefull with their surrounding, cleaning the house as often as she can. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Students at the San Ramon Elementary School do their part in keeping the school premises clean and dry. One of the suggeste ways of keeping dengue carrying mosquitoes at bay. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Dengue patients continue to get admitted to the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Provincial District Hospital in Calamba, Laguna. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Community workers periodically visit barangays to participate in searching for victims and to conduct Dengue testing activities. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A young boy sticks out his tounge as he undergoes dengue virus testing at the Palo Alto covered courts in Canlubang Laguna on August 13, 2019. Seven out of 10 children tested positive for dengue during the tests. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Children and their parents gather at the Palo Alto covered courts in Calamba, Laguna for dengue tests conducted by the Department of Health. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A doctor collects a blood sample from a child during one of the city's blood-testing activities. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A mother covers her son's eyes as he gets his finger pricked during a blood-testing program. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A young girl comes for dengue-testing in her pajamas. The community of Palo Alto in Canlubang, Laguna is urging children to use long clothing to prevent mosquito bites in the early morning and in the late afternoon, the time when mosquitoes are most active. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A young girl looks at a health worker conducting dengue-testing at the Palo Alto covered courts in Canlubang, Laguna. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A boy cries as a Department of Health doctor extracts blood samples to test for dengue at the barangay hall of Palo Alto, Canlubang in Laguna. The provincial government has increased community visits in an effort to mitigate the rise in dengue cases with Calamba, Laguna now under a state of calamity. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A doctor tests a blood sample for dengue in one of the community-led tests in Canlubang, Laguna. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Dengue patients continue to get admitted to the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Provincial District Hospital in Calamba, Laguna. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News