MANILA, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- The number of dengue cases in the Philippines will continue to rise in the coming months as intermittent rain continues during the wet season, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Monday.
"We all know that the rain is going to continue a few more months and we are expecting the number of dengue cases to increase maybe one to three months more," Gawrie Galappaththy, a WHO medical expert specializing in vector-borne parasitic diseases, told Xinhua in an interview.
Dengue mosquitos breed in stagnant water like water-filled containers and some plants like bananas and bromeliad. She said scarcity of water during the dry season and the intermittent rain during the rainy season have resulted in dengue cases outbreak.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection found in tropical countries worldwide. It can cause joint pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash, and can cause breathing problems, hemorrhaging and organ failure in severe cases.
She said the El Nino dry spell that ravaged the Philippines starting in March has also contributed to the rise of dengue cases in the country. "There was the scarcity of water. People collect water in containers where the mosquitos breed, and then the rainy season came," she said.
Galappaththy said dengue cases are increasing not only in the Philippines but also in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
The number of dengue cases in the Philippines has surged to 208,917 from January to Aug. 10 this year with 882 deaths, the Department of Health of the Philippines said recently.
The number is more than double the cases recorded in the same period last year, the DOH said. The Philippines recorded 102,298 dengue cases with 540 deaths in 2018.
There are many factors why the death rate in the Philippines is way higher than its neighboring countries, Galappaththy said. For instance, she said some people wait for a few days before they bring their sick children to the health center for check-up.
"Sometimes it's too late before the people seek treatment. We call them the late-treatment-seeking-behavior of the community," she said.
Another reason, she said, is that the village health workers fail to screen and report severe dengue cases. That is why she stressed the need to detect the early symptoms of dengue for it to be treated before it gets worse.
Already, Galappaththy said the WHO is closely coordinating with the Philippine government in its efforts to stop the outbreak.
"We are supporting this country to curtail this outbreak. The DOH is doing everything to strengthen all aspects of surveillance, communication, management of dengue cases," she added.
She stressed the importance of early detection of the symptoms. "We have to start from there, making the community aware of these symptoms and to take their children when they have the fever to the hospital," she said.
Moreover, she said it is also important to educate the barangay or village health workers about the symptoms.
One way to prevent dengue virus from spreading is to destroy the breeding sites of the dengue mosquitos, she said.
"If there is no breeding site then there is no dengue. Find the breeding sites, and then destroy them. It's the key point to everything. That should start from the household, and the community," she said.
The DOH said 10 regions across the Philippines, including the nation's capital Metro Manila, have already exceeded the threshold for the epidemic.
On Aug. 6, the Philippines declared the country's outbreak of dengue to be a national epidemic to improve the response to the outbreak by allowing local governments to draw on a special quick response fund.