dengue cases in the Philippines

Negros Occidental has highest dengue rate in Western Visayas

Inday Espina-Varona
Negros Occidental has highest dengue rate in Western Visayas

SEARCH AND DESTROY. Bacolod City health workers check possible breeding grounds of the Aedis mosquitoes that spread the dengue virus, which has shown a spike in cases in 2022.

Bacolod information office

As the provincial health office warns of a potential dengue epidemic, health workers say hospitals' current COVID-19 protocols are discouraging early consultations for dengue

Dengue cases in Negros Occidental have increased by 287% over the last year, the highest rate in Western Visayas, and Governor Eugenio Jose “Bong” Lacson described the spread of the mosquito-borne disease as alarming on Tuesday, May 31.

The provincial health office ordered hospitals to activate their fast lanes after tallying 96 new cases between May 15 to 21, a span of a week.

The fast lanes are triage centers that will prioritize patients showing symptoms of dengue, said provincial health officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang. 

But in Bacolod City, the province’s independently administered capital, health workers on Wednesday, June 1, said residents were reluctant to go to hospitals for consultation because of COVID-19 protocols that require Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) swab tests.

Bacolod City’s health epidemiology unit, which has a separate dengue count from the province, said four persons have died among the 138 city residents who got infected with dengue since the start of 2022.

The fatalities – an 11-year-old male child, a male teenager, a 20-year-old female and a 75-year-old male – were all residents of various coastal barangays.

The 2022 figure for Bacolod is more than 70% higher compared to cases in the same period last year, which had 80 infections and two deaths.

Early detection can save lives

The head nurse of Barangay Singcang Airport, which has currently the most number of dengue cases in the city, told the news outfit Digicast Negros that mothers also fear they could end up in quarantine centers while awaiting results of the COVID-19 test.

Fever is a symptom of both COVID-19 and dengue, as are headaches, body weakness, joint and muscle pains, loss of appetite, and even diarrhea. Many dengue patients, however, will show skin rashes. 

The triage centers administer dengue antigen tests and medical experts then check patients’ symptoms to determine admission or home rest.

Tumimbang said the province has hit the alert threshold.

If dengue cases continue to go up, he warned, the province could be forced to declare an epidemic.

City health office environment sanitation division chief Dr. Grace Tan urged families with sick members to go to the city health compound fast lane where admissions can be coordinated with hospitals.

Refusal to seek early consultation is a main reason for patients falling seriously ill with dengue, Tan said.

Bacolod has been scouring barangays since the beginning of May to clean up possible breeding grounds of the Aedis mosquitoes that spread the virus.

Tan said the city health office is helping barangays to do enhanced 4S: search and destroy mosquito breeding sites, secure self-protection measures, seek early consultation, and support fogging.

A media and on-ground information campaign has been combined with the distribution of larvicides, and spraying and fogging, Tan continued. –