(Beyond Pesticides, September 10, 2010) The Department of Health (DOH) of the Republic of the Philippines recently launched a strategy against Dengue Fever, favoring integrated pest management (IPM) strategies over pesticide sprays. The campaign, called D.E.N.G.U.E. stands for D – daily monitoring of patient’s status, E – encourage intake of oral fluids like oresol, water, juices, etc, N — note any dengue warning signs like persistent vomiting and bleeding, G — give paracetamol for fever and NOT aspirin, because aspirin induces bleeding, U — use mosquito nets and E — early consultation is advised for any warning signs. Health Secretary Enrique Ona also reiterated that the most effective way to prevent and fight dengue is still by practicing the DOH’s ”˜4-S’ strategy consisting of Search and destroy, Self-protective measures, Seek early treatment and Say no to indiscriminate fogging.
The new D.E.N.G.U.E. strategy has been devised by the DOH to educate the public on home treatment of mild dengue cases. This is to also help decongest hospitals by giving an assurance that not all dengue cases require hospital confinement but can be managed at home using the strategy. Secretary Ona is educating the public that many dengue cases, if mild, can be managed at home and not all cases require hospitalization.
“We are urging all local government units to mobilize barangay [smallest administrative unit] dengue brigades in their areas,” Secretary Ona explained, adding that a once-a-week community-wide clean up drives against dengue will help a lot in reducing cases.
Dr. Susanna Madarieta, DOH regional director, also stresses that the best prevention is to constantly clean surroundings to destroy breeding grounds of mosquitoes. Measures include removing or regularly draining all water-retaining objects, and containers such as: old tires, coconut husks, and plants of stagnant waters, tin cans, pet dishes, buckets, holes in trees, clogged gutters and down spouts, birdbaths, trash can lids, and shallow fishless ponds. Abandoned lots, houses and establishments should also be included in the search-and-destroy operations because these may have possible mosquito breeding sites.
In areas that cannot be sufficiently drained, less-toxic larvacide, such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is a bacterial strain that, can be sprayed or dunked into larval pools and is ingested by feeding larvae and kills them. Stocking permanent water pools, such as ornamental ponds, with mosquito larvae eating fish is another effective approach.
In addition to offering some of these suggestions, the DOH cautioned local government units against the use of fogging and misting in the fight against dengue. citing that the effect of the pesticides are both limited, and harmful to people and the environment.
“There is still no cure or vaccine for dengue and that is why we must focus on other cost-effective interventions, the most important of which is source reduction — destroy the dengue-carrying mosquitoes,” Secretary Ona emphasized. The number of cases nationwide in the Philippines from January to August 21 is 62,503 is 88.8% higher than last year’s 33,102 for the same period. There were 465 deaths recorded this year as opposed to last year’s 350 deaths.
Secretary Ona reminded the public that dengue, although an all-year round disease, is more common during rainy days when there are more potential breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. To prevent dengue, the Health Secretary advised the public to destroy all possible mosquito breeding sites like old tires, soft drink bottles and tin cans, and use mosquito nets or protective clothing.
The best way to avoid mosquitoes, especially in the evening when they are most active, is to wear long pants and long sleeves. Burning citronella candles outside also helps repel mosquitoes. Since these two options are not always possible, least toxic mosquito repellents can sometimes be a good alternative. Many common mosquito repellents can contain toxic ingredients, however, so it is important to consider all of the option and read labels carefully before buying or spraying the repellents.
Responsible mosquito management can be an effective method of mosquito control. Beyond Pesticides believes the ideal mosquito management strategy emphasizes education, aggressive removal of standing water sources, larval control, monitoring and surveillance for both mosquito-borne illness and pesticide-related illness. For a complete list of ways to prevent and manage mosquitoes, see Beyond Pesticides factsheet “Backyard Mosquito Management: Practices that do not poison you or the environment.” For even more resources, see our Tools for Change page.