Iwas-dengue: How to keep the family dengue-free all year round

Iwas-dengue: How to keep the family dengue-free all year round

/ 03:42 PM January 11, 2024

While there has been a reported downtrend in dengue fever cases in the Philippines, health officials expressed cautious optimism about this perennial public concern. Dr. Anna Lisa Ong Lim, an expert from the Section of Infectious & Tropical Disease at the University of the Philippines and the Philippine General Hospital, underscores the importance of not succumbing to complacency despite the positive development. Dr. Ong Lim emphasizes the cyclical nature of dengue, the multifaceted challenges it poses, and how the infection can affect families, communities, and healthcare systems across the country. To protect your family from dengue all year round, here are some expert tips and reminders.

Individuals and communities need to work together

Dengue goes in cycles, meaning cases can go up and down at different times of the year. Taking action to control mosquitoes, from individual households to schools and communities, plays a big role in fighting dengue. Since dengue is spread by mosquitoes, targeting and avoiding these pesky insects is a key part of our efforts to tackle the disease.


Individuals and families working together with community efforts and environmental actions are important in bringing down the number of dengue cases.

“Interventions that target vector control are a significant part of dengue control efforts. When schools and communities actively participate in the fight against dengue, it becomes a valuable contribution. In the case of dengue, mosquitoes are our adversaries, so that’s what we target to reduce transmission.”

“Whether in households, schools, offices, or the larger community, our actions should be synchronized and consistent for a more impactful outcome,” Dr. Ong-Lim emphasized.

To continue combating dengue effectively, families and communities need to do their part and remain vigilant. Adopt practices that contribute to vector control, such as eliminating breeding sites and reporting suspected cases within the family promptly. Dr. Ong Lim stresses that sustained efforts at the grassroots level, coupled with efficient surveillance, form the backbone of dengue control.

Individuals with suspected dengue must get tested

Educational initiatives target households and clinicians, promoting early recognition of dengue symptoms and encouraging prompt consultation, especially in high-risk areas.

Antigen tests for diagnosing dengue fever have become more accessible, offering a quicker and simpler way to identify the virus. These tests detect specific proteins related to the dengue virus in a person’s blood. Unlike some traditional methods, antigen tests provide results rapidly, allowing for prompt diagnosis and timely medical intervention.

“Dengue symptoms are non-specific, making it easy to dismiss a febrile illness as minor. During dengue season or when cases are high, families are reminded that individuals presenting fever without a clear source should undergo an assessment by a clinician if there’s no improvement in 3 to 4 days. Simultaneously, healthcare workers are reminded to consider dengue in the differential diagnosis if data indicates rising cases. This strategy is implemented on the ground regularly,” Dr. Ong-Lim noted.

“We have antigen tests that help diagnose dengue earlier, unlike before when CBCs and platelet counts were necessary. However, these antigen tests are not widely available in many parts of the country. Availability is not necessarily difficult, but consistent access to testing agents, logistics, and the associated cost can be challenging,” she added.

Prevention is the best way to stay safe from dengue

It’s important to focus on preventing dengue rather than just treating it. This not only keeps you healthy but also avoids complications, reduces stress, and saves on healthcare expenses. The Department of Health’s 5S strategy helps in this: search and destroy mosquito breeding spots, protect yourself, consult early if you feel unwell, support fogging when needed, and always stay hydrated. Taking these steps can make a big difference in staying safe from dengue.

“Prevention is always better. In addressing infectious diseases, avoiding infection is necessary, just until such a time that one is already immunized. This reduces the chance of transmission and severity of disease should one contract it. The same goes for dengue,” Dr. Ong-Lim explained.

The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges the ongoing challenges posed by dengue outbreaks in endemic countries. It recognizes that vaccination is a critical intervention in the prevention and control of infectious diseases. It also cited that a safe, effective, and affordable dengue vaccine against the four strains of the dengue virus would represent a major advance for the control of dengue especially in high-burden countries such as the Philippines.

Stay vigilant, stay informed

While the reported decline in dengue cases is promising, it is not a signal for complacency. Families, communities, and the general public are urged to stay vigilant, informed, and engaged in preventive measures. Dengue is a complex challenge that requires a collective and sustained effort from individuals, communities, and local governments.

“We need to avoid encounters with mosquitoes until we no longer need to be excessively cautious because we are already vaccinated. That’s what we hope will happen in our fight against dengue. We understand that we cannot completely eliminate mosquitoes worldwide. At the very least, we can have protection, a defense, and a vaccine,” Dr. Ong-Lim emphasized.

As the Philippines navigates the complexities of dengue control, the insights provided by Dr. Ong Lim serve as a valuable guide for a proactive and informed approach to safeguard public health against the persistent threat of dengue fever.


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