Two regions in the country of more than 7,000 islands have reported outbreaks of the mosquito borne viral disease, chikungunya, during the past week, both linked to issues of sanitation.
First, CNN reported Wednesday that officials in Ilocos Norte, in the northern most regions of Luzon Island, have confirmed that at least 50 suspected cases of chikungunya in the town of Pagudpud.
The report notes that Pagudpud Vice Mayor Rex Benemerito said more than 20 people were rushed to the municipal health center after they experienced high fever and joint pains, and developed rashes.
The surge in chikungunya infections is being blamed on uncollected garbage.
A little over 1,000 miles to the south on the island of Mindanao, dozens of people have been stricken with chikungunya in the CARAGA region. The Manila Standard reports 78 chikungunya cases have been documented in the region, particularly in the city of Esperanza in Agusan del Sur province.
15 people have been hospitalized due to their illnesses.
Department of Health regional director for Caraga Dr. Jose Llacuna, Jr. said, “One of the findings of our team was that the problem of sanitation and cleanliness.”
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. It can cause high fever, join and muscle pain, and headache. Chikungunya does not often result in death, but the joint pain may last for months or years and may become a cause of chronic pain and disability.
There is no specific treatment for chikungunya infection, nor any vaccine to prevent it. Pending the development of a new vaccine, the only effective means of prevention is to protect individuals against mosquito bites.
Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today