DOH: No basis for for declaring dengue outbreak in Cebu

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Cebu City (CNN Philippines) — Is there really a dengue outbreak in Cebu?

The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas sees no basis for declaring an outbreak yet.

But on Monday, the Cebu provincial government officially declared a province-wide dengue outbreak. The move was recommended by the provincial health office, which reported that dengue cases have increased by more than 100 percent.

Renan Cimafranca, chief of the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU), said the provincial health office might have analyzed their data differently. He added they might have other reasons to declare an outbreak.

But as far as DOH standards are concerned, the number of cases in Cebu Province does not fall into the outbreak category. The DOH also has not recommended areas of concern to the provincial government.

As for Cebu City, the local government declared a state of calamity on Tuesday, following the recommendation of the city health office.

With the declaration, the city hall will now have access to calamity funds.

Cimafranca, however, said they only recommended declaring an outbreak in four out of the 81 barangays up for review, since these areas are already experiencing "epidemic proportions" of dengue.

These barangays are Guadalupe, Labangon, Lahug, and Barrio Luz.

Cimafranca said the DOH cannot prevent both governments from declaring outbreaks in their areas of jurisdiction.

He said the purpose of declaring an outbreak is to primarily inform the public about the actual dengue situation in a certain area.

More dengue cases

RESU data from January to October 8, 2016 shows 17,128 cases with 136 deaths in the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor. No data came from Negros Oriental yet.

These are 124 percent higher than the data from 2015.

Cebu City, the biggest urban area in the region, listed 2,256 cases including 13 deaths from January 1 to October 8 this year. It only had 1,359 with 11 deaths last year.

Blood supply problem?

The Cebu provincial health office has maintained its stance recommending a province-wide outbreak of dengue with 5,500 cases listed this year compared to the 2,500 cases last year.

Health office chief Rene Catan said they have the authority to declare an outbreak, since the Health Department has already devolved the functions to them.

Catan also said that some of the deaths in the province were due to the lack of blood supply. Cebu will look into projects to solve this as part of its anti-dengue measures.

But DOH dengue program coordinator Ronald Jarvic Buscato said blood supply problems and dengue deaths have no correlation. He said blood transfusion only occurs in rare cases.

He said the deaths are mainly caused by late referrals of patients.

Buscato also warned that mosquito misting, usually seen as a preventive measure for dengue, is ineffective and expensive.

He said the public should instead practice the search and destroy method, by looking for possible breeding grounds of mosquito carriers, such as stagnant water in containers.