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DOH: Clean surroundings a better response to dengue

First Posted 08:23:00 09/08/2010

The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) has cautioned local government units against the use of fogging and misting in the fight against dengue.

The effect is limited, and the chemical pesticides can be harmful to people and the envirionment.

The best prevention is to constantly clean surroundings to destroy breeding grounds of mosquitoes, said Dr. Susanna Madarieta, DOH regional director.

Fogging and misting should only be used in areas experiencing outbreaks, said Madarieta during the weekly 888 weekly news forum in Cebu City yesterday.

Madarieta said misting is less hazardous to health than fogging since the liquid chemicals eventually settle on the ground but fogging, which is gaseous, causes wider diffusion in an area.

She said the chemical pesticide used in fogging is also harmful to the environment, particularly to lizards and other animals which feed on mosquitoes.

Fogging only temporarily drives away mosquitoes, but doesn?t eliminate them. When the smell of the chemical subsides, the mosquitoes return.

Madareita proposed that misting be done simultaneously with search and destroy operations to penetrate remote areas not reached by chemicals.

Empty tin cans, spare tires, leftover clothes and shoes and dark areas should be checked since these are favorite breeding grounds of mosquitoes.

Misting is only applied outdoors so it?s possible for mosquitoes to transfer inside the house when the procedure is done, said Madarieta.

Cost is another limitation.

A fogging and misting machine costs between P30,000 to P40,000. The chemical pesticide costs about P3,000 per liter.

Madarieta said local government units usually buy this equipment.

The machine operator has to be trained by the health office and needs to wear mask, gloves and a gown to avoid exposure to the pesticides.

Prolonged exposure can lead to respiratory problems and allergic reactions like skin rashes.

When misting or fogging is done, residents should evacuate the area for at least 30 minutes to avoid direct exposure to the presticide.

The dengue-carrying mosquito bites between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Wearing long sleeves, protective clothing, and using mosquito nets and insepct repellant are recommended to prevent infection.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona, in a previous statement, urged all LGUS tomobilize barangay dengue brigades and to say no to indiscriminate fogging.

He said a once-a-week community-wide clean up drive against dengue will help a lot in reducing cases.

Abandoned lots, houses and establishments should be checked as possible mosquito breeding sites.

?There is still no cure or vaccine for dengue and that is why we must focus on other cost-effective interventions. the most important is source reduction -- destory the dengue-carrying mosquitoes,? Ona said.

The DOH plans to distribute chemical-soaked curtains to households as well as mosquito nets to public elementary schools identified as dengue hotspots.

Dr. Noreen Chua of Chong Hua Hospital, an infectious disease specialist, said dengue cases are difficult to control partly because the Aedes Aegypti mosquito has a strong ability to survive and multiply. The mosquito can be identified through its white strips on its legs.

Chua said the female mosquitoes bite because they need proteins from humans in order to produce eggs.

While mosquitoes like to breed in clean, stagnant water, these can also lay eggs during dry weather when there is no stagnant water.

For Central Visayas, 5,571 dengue cases were recorded from January to Sept. 4 this year by the DOH Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU).

September is historically the peak month for dengue cases.

Dr. Manuel Purog, acting chief of the Integrated Provincial Health Office, said the Cebu provincial government will continue to use ?misting? and Deluge chemicals in affected towns and cities.

?In fact, it is the DOH that recommended to us the use of such chemicals for the misting process,? said Purog.

Toledo leads in the list of ten affected areas in Cebu province with 109 dengue cases.

It?s followed by Talisay City (99), Danao City (95), Minglanilla (90), Balamban (88), Medellin (56), Asturias (53), Liloan (51), Daanbantayan (45), and Bogo City (43).

Cebu province recorded 151 new cases from Sept. 1 to 7, bringing to 1,265 the total number of cases, according to the latest data from the IPHO.

Dr. Catherine Buscato said they iniformed Toledo City that chemicals were available at the Capitol but no request was made by the city, maybe because they still have supply.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama is asking Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) member stations for free air time for pooled broadcasts about the dengue campaign.

?There is a rise of dengue cases in the country and we must be proactive,? he said in asking for help in the information drive./Reporter Dale G. Israel and Correspondent Edison delos Angeles

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