The number of dengue fever cases in the Philippines increased by nearly 6000 as the country of some 7000 islands reported 18,790 suspected cases of dengue as of Feb. 20, up from 12,904 suspected cases two weeks prior.

Image/Howard the Duck
Image/Howard the Duck

In addition, 65 dengue related fatalities have been reported through the first seven weeks of 2016.

In December, the Philippines Food and Drug Administration approved Dengvaxia® , a tetravalent dengue vaccine, for the prevention of disease caused by all four dengue types in individuals from 9-45 years of age living in endemic areas, the first country in Asia.

More recently, the Philippines has announced an ambitious five-year plan to vaccinate more than 1 million children against dengue to contain the spread of the dangerous mosquito-borne disease to launch in March.

More than 200,000 dengue cases were reported in the Philippines last year – an increase of 80,000 cases compared with 2014. The disease has become a year-round threat in the Philippines.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reports the launch of the Dengvaxia vaccine this month makes the Philippines the first country to make the new vaccine commercially available. It is also registered in Mexico and Brazil. The commercial release follows a series of clinical trials involving 40,000 people in Asia and Latin America. The Philippines claims to be the only country so far to complete all three phases.