Cavite town under State of Calamity due to chikungunya

(CNN Philippines) — A town in the province of Cavite is now under a state of calamity following a chikungunya outbreak.

Health officials in Cavite consider the town of Indang one of the cleanest in the province. It came as a surprise when a chikungunya outbreak was declared last week after Indang recorded 99% of the total suspect chikungunya cases in Cavite. As of September 24, Indang reported 470 suspect cases.

The number of cases in Indang peaked in July with 161 suspect cases. It has steadily gone down since, with 61 cases reported in August and 16 in September. Local health officials, however want residents to be on alert.

"Sa epidemic card, bumaba na ang kaso, pero patuloy pa rin ang bilang," said Cavite provincial epidemiologist Nelso Soriano.

[Translation: On the epidemic card, the number of cases are going down, but we continue to monitor this.]

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne disease just like dengue and zika. While it shares the same symptoms as dengue — such as fever, joint pain and rashes — it is not fatal.

"Hindi masyadong problema ang chikungunya kasi hindi nakamamatay unlike dengue. Pero may prolonged joint pains na pwedeng tumagal ng anim na buwan hanggang ilang taon," said Soriano. 

[Translation: Chikungunya isn't a big problem because it isn't fatal, unlike dengue. But (you can experience) prolonged joint pains for as long as six months to several years (after the illness).]

Indang Mayor Perfecto Fidel declared a state of calamity for easy access to the town's P7-million calamity fund. The fund will be used for information campaigns, misting operations, medicines, and laboratory tests.

Within the town of Indang, Barangay Agus-os recorded the highest number of suspect cases with 189 over this nine-month period. Residents say some reported infections as early as January this year.

Nene Chavez, 59, first felt the symptoms of the illness in May, when she had fever and rashes. It has been five months since then, but her joints still hurt and swell occasionally.

"Kapag gumaling 'yung dalawang kamay ko,' yung paa ko naman...hindi ako makalakad," she said.

[Translation: When my hands feel better, then it's my legs...I can't walk.]

Her neighbor Ricardo Dimatulac fell ill in April, but still feels debilitating pain.

"Minsan nga ako'y nakakaranas na sa higaan ako'y inaanuhan ng pagkain, hindi ako makabangon," he said.

[Translation: Sometimes, they have to bring food to me in bed because I can't get up.]

A nearby spring is the main source of water in Indang. The water supply is cut off at 10 p.m. daily, so all the residents store water in their homes — a favorite breeding site of Aedes mosquitoes.

Indang mayor Fidel appeals to residents to keep their water containers tightly closed to prevent Aedes mosquitoes from laying their eggs in their homes. This remains to be the most cost-effective solution to eradicating mosquito breeding sites and preventing the spread of chikungunya.