On Tuesday, the Philippines declared a “national dengue epidemic” according to a release from their Department of Health.
There have been more than 146,000 recorded cases of dengue fever from January 1 through July 20, 2019, with a total of 622 deaths.
The rate of recorded cases in the Philippines has increased 98% from 2018’s statistics, according to the release.
Dengue viruses are spread by the same species of mosquito that spread chikungunya and Zika, among other viruses, according to the CDC. And dengue is common in more than 100 countries around the world. Up to 400 million people are infected yearly with 22,000 dying from dengue on average.
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Because there are four different dengue viruses, a person can be infected by the virus up to four times in their life.
But not everyone infected will get sick. According to the CDC, about one-in-four people infected with dengue will become ill.
The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, aches and pains and a rash. Of the people infected, only one-in-20 will contract severe dengue.
For the past three weeks, seven of 17 regions in the Philippines have had rates of dengue that are higher than the epidemic level, according to the release.
“It is important that a national epidemic be declared in these area to identify where a localized response is needed, and to enable the local government units to use their Quick Response Fund to address the epidemic situation.” Francisco T. Duque, health secretary, said in the release.
There is a dengue vaccine, called Dengvaxia. It is available in some parts of the world, including the Philippines.
However, the use of the vaccine had been banned, according to an article from because the vaccine had been linked to the deaths of several children. Now though, according to Reuters, they are considering, with caution, reintroducing the vaccine.
Rontgene Solante, head of adult infectious diseases and tropical medicine at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, told ABS-CBN that he would be in favor of lifting the ban.
“If everything will be really done correctly and there is a recommendation that this vaccine is safe and effective then I would say this will be more beneficial to any country reporting a higher number of dengue infections,” he said to ABS-CBN.
Bug spray can also be used to ward off potentially infected mosquitoes.
Starting Tuesday, the Department of Health will begin a new initiative with help from other groups such as schools, government agencies and community organizations. They will focus on searching and destroying mosquito breeding sites, the release said.
Follow Morgan Hines on Twitter: @MorganEmHines.