CHIKUNGUNYA OUTBREAKS

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Dengue did not find its way to our list of top health news this year, maybe because cases have decreased significantly due to heightened awareness and various interventions to prevent dengue such as putting ovitraps - a device to control mosquitoes, cleaning mosquito breeding sites as well as self-protection measures conducted by the DOH, local government units, communities and the public at large.  What made it to our list, however, is the dengue-like viral disease called chikungunya.

Chikungunya takes its name from a verb in the Kimakonde language of Tanzania and Mozambique, meaning "to become contorted," referring to the "stooped" appearance of those suffering with incapacitating joint pain that is not typical of dengue. Aside from this, it is also characterized by fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and rash. Symptoms appear between four and seven days after the patient has been bitten by the infected mosquito. Chikungunya shares some clinical signs with dengue and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common, therefore the incidence of chikungunya could be much higher than what has been previously reported.

On July 25, a state of calamity was declared in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte after the number of suspected chikungunya cases surged to more than 300, affecting at least four neighboring villages. Meanwhile, the DOH registered a total of 2,594 suspected chikungunya cases in the first half of 2013, but only 157 of these cases had been confirmed. No deaths were recorded. Outbreaks also occurred in Kiamba and Maitum in Sarangani; Villareal and Daram in Western Samar; Ma. Aurora in Aurora; Sindangan in Zamboanga del Norte; Sta. Rita in Samar; Concepcion in Romblon; Santiago in Agusan del Norte; and Patnongon in Antique. According to ASec Tayag, the last significant number of chikungunya cases in the Philippines happened when Tropical Storm Sendong hit in 2011 and outbreaks occurred in Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

Prevention and control of chikungunya can be combined with dengue control efforts. 

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