19 Zika cases in PH as experts tackle national action plan

department of health (doh)
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Health officials report two new cases of the virus in Cavite

MANILA, Philippines (Oct. 28, 2016) — Health experts in a summit Friday, October 28, discussed the Philippines’ action plan against the Zika virus, as two new cases were reported by the health department. 

Initial reports said the new cases reported were both from Cavite. This brings to 19 the total number of Zika cases in the country at present.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), 12 of the 19 cases come from Western Visayas, 3 from the National Capital Region, 3 from Calabarzon, and one from Central Visayas:

  • Iloilo City – 11 cases
  • Oton, Iloilo – 1 case
  • Cebu City – 1 case
  • Mandaluyong City – 2 cases
  • Muntinlupa City – 1 case
  • Antipolo City, Rizal – 1 case
  • Cavite – 2 cases

Only the confirmed case in Cebu City involves a pregnant patient.

Health officials reported the first confirmed local transmission of the virus in September.

“These cases did not have a history of travel to an affected country a month prior to the onset of their illness,” the DOH said in a statement Friday.

Zika, which resembles a light case of the flu, is transmitted by mosquito species found in tropical and sub-tropical regions: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, or tiger mosquitoes.

The disease is strongly suspected of causing birth defects such as microcephaly and other brain deformities in newborns.

National action plan

The first National Summit on Zika Virus held Friday gathered international and local experts to talk about the virus in the international and local context.

There, health experts talked about issues on case detection and reporting, as well as challenges in laboratory testing and mosquito control.

With the increasing number of cases, “the Philippines further strengthens its actions to prepare and respond to more Zika virus cases,” Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in a statement.

One of the advocacies of government is the strengthening of the 4S strategy:

  • Search and destroy breeding grounds of mosquitoes
  • Use self-protection measures like applying insect repellants
  • Seek early consultation for fever lasting more than two days
  • Say no to indiscriminate fogging, especially without doing the 1st “S” (but say yes to fogging by local governments when there is an impending outbreak)

The health department also provided areas considered as Zika hot spots with insecticides and fogging machines.

There is also an ongoing procurement of Zika pregnancy packages to be distributed to these hot spots.

A Zika pregnancy package includes 3 bottles of insect repellent, one single treated bed net, and two brochures containing information on Zika and the 4S strategy.

“A total of P16.5 million is provided by DOH for the procurement of Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for [Research Institute for Tropical Medicines], PCR test for the sub national laboratories, and vector surveillance in selected ports and airports,” Ubial added.

  by Jee Y. Geronimo | Rappler.com