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DOH monitoring ‘deadlier’ dengue strain

Serotype 4, a rare and 'deadlier' dengue strain has been monitored in Zamboanga City

The health department says it is closely monitoring a "deadlier" Dengue strain in Mindanao that could be transferred to Metro Manila.

MANILA, Philippines – Medical experts are closely monitoring dengue cases in western Mindanao, particularly a rare but “deadlier” strain that was first monitored in the region two years ago, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

As summer ends, DOH Assistant Secretary Dr Enrique Tayag said dengue cases are increasing in Zamboanga City, where the spread of “serotype 4” dengue strain has been monitored.

We are still investigating why the cases are high in Mindanao. Cases usually shoot up there are new serotype strains. There is a possibility that the older serotype 2 strain has been replaced with a new one, making the populace more vulnerable,” Tayag explained.

Of the 4 “serotype” strains or variation of dengue viruses, types 2 and 3 are the most common in the country.

According to DOH, those who get infected with the common dengue serotypes develop immunity from these strains until the following year. If serotype 4, for instance, will spread as a predominant strain in an area, this will make most people susceptible to the disease.

Among the areas in Mindanao, Zamboanga City is apparently vulnerable to dengue fever since DOH discovered all serotypes there.

During the 2010 outbreak, it was confirmed that dengue serotype 4, which increases the chances of fatality among those infected with disease, was already existing in Zamboanga City,” said Dr Norvie Taruc-Jalani of the DOH’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

Double whammy

This is seen as a double whammy for the city since the new strain is not only “deadlier,” but also raises the risk of infecting more people.

Zamboanga City health chief Rodel Agbulos said 600 dengue patients were recorded in the city from January to March this year, which is double the number of cases compared to the same period in 2011. At least 9 of the patients have died.

The city government has re-intensified the campaign community clean-up drive and educating the public to fight dengue fever.

At least 130,000 dengue cases were recorded throughout the country last year, DOH records show.

In Metro Manila, the serotype 2 remains the dominant strain, according to Tayag.

But he warned that migration or people traveling to Mindanao may contract the strain and may contribute to its transmission to the metropolis. – Rappler.com