I’ve had dengue. Two of my kids have had dengue. And one of them (and me) had to have blood plasma transfusions. I can still remember the feeling of having absolutely no energy and no appetite. And when my kids had it, it was doubly difficult for me to watch them, praying that the virus would just run its course without anything worse happening to them. I actually had friends who lost their child to dengue.
Although known to be a tropical country disease, dengue is surprisingly making its way into colder countries. Japan, just recently, was reported to have found cases of dengue among their citizens. Climate change is now spreading the risk of this mosquito-borne disease far and wide, beyond tropical boundaries. At the moment there is no dengue vaccine that is commercially available although recent news talk about one that is being developed.
Dengue is the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne disease in the world and is more rampant in tropical countries such as the Philippines. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito, usually seen in the early hours of the morning and early evening, and has white stripes on its legs, affects more children than adults. Those at higher risk are children aged one to nine years old.
Dengue can present itself with symptoms similar to other diseases — high fever that comes and goes, headaches, nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, abdominal pain, muscle and joint aches, rashes, and even bleeding so oftentimes it can be difficult to diagnose at the onset because sometimes it can even look like flu at first.
The alarming number of cases diagnosed in the Philippines, as well as the number of deaths, is really of concern to parents like me. I was shocked to learn that in 2013, a total of 204,906 dengue cases were diagnosed, with 660 deaths while in 2014, 24,800 dengue cases have already been reported with 100 deaths. (Source: ToDOH Laban sa Dengue brochure)
|(L-R): Jeofrey Yulo (GM of GSK), DOH rep, and Dr. Sally Gatchalian
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has partnered with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Pediatric Society in spearheading a campaign, “Aksyon Laban sa Dengue: A Dengue Fever Awareness and Education Program”. They’ve also set up a Barangay Caravan which will bring these efforts down to the grassroots level. I think this campaign is laudable because it is those in the grassroots level most exposed to breeding grounds of the dengue mosquito. They are also the ones least likely to immediately bring their kids to the hospital because of cost considerations.
|Dr. Sally Gatchalian
Dr. Sally Gatchalian, secretary of the Philippine Pediatric Society, gave tips on how to take care of a patient who is already diagnosed with dengue:
1. Professional help is required for severe cases of dengue.
2. Supportive care should be given to patients to complement hospital treatment – While the patient is letting dengue run its course, the only thing that can help, aside from proper hydration, is managing the fever.
3. Do not give steroids – The WHO has recommended paracetamol as the recommended analgesic treatment for dengue fever. Aspirin and ibuprofen are NOT recommended since they may aggravate bleeding.
4. Regularly monitor platelets.
5. Keep detailed records of fluid intake and outputs.
Dr. Sally also enumerated the 4S of Dengue Prevention, according to the DOH:
1. Search and destroy source of stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed – Mosquitoes breed in clear water. Some things you can do – change water in vases once a week, clean your roof’s drain pipes, clean the inside and outside of pails and other receptacles, ensure that no water is left in dish holders of refrigerators, cover all water reservoirs, and overturn all receptacles used for storing water.
2. Seek immediate consultation if child has fever lasting more than 2 days. – Remember…give paracetamol, not aspirin or ibuprofen!
3. Say yes to discriminate fogging only when there is an epidemic. – If done properly, fogging can also kill mosquitoes aside from driving them away. But they are only recommended in cases of outbreak and during peak biting time.
4. Self protection measures. – Use mosquito nets, apply insect repellant, and where possible, wear long-sleeved shirts.
Calpol, GSK’s paracetamol product, is specially designed to provide relief from the discomfort of high fever, chills and pain that plagues mostly children. Since paracetamol is widely suited to most people, it is considered safe even for children, if used as directed.
Calpol is available in three different formulations:
* 100mg/mL infant drops 10mL (for 0-2 yrs old, PhP 49.25)
* 120mg/5mL suspension for 2-6 yrs old, 60ml (PhP 80.50) & 120mL (PhP 133.75)
* 250mg/mL suspension 60mL (for 6-12 yrs old, PhP 123.75).
It is also available in two (2) flavors: orange and strawberry.
Watch out for the “Aksyon Laban sa Dengue” caravan which is set to visit barangays within Metro Manila identified with high cases of dengue incidence. The DOH will initially facilitate the training of health practitioners to discuss new incidences and trends as well as prevention and treatment of dengue. The Philippine Pediatric Society health committee will then cascade the dengue modules to the selected barangays. GSK, on the other hand, will be bringing doctors to the areas to lead the dengue information campaign so that Filipinos can protect their loved ones from this deadly disease.