Phillipines sees dramatic rise in dengue cases

A dramatic rise in the number of dengue hemorrhagic fever cases has led the Philippines Department of Health to issue a national warning against the disease.

At a briefing in the city of Malacanang, Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona said that in the period from January to August of 2010, the number of dengue cases rose nearly 90 percent, to 62,503 from 33,102 in 2009. Deaths from the disease rose from 350 to 465, according to Business World.

"We are now at the peak or maybe we are already moving downwards," Mr. Ona said, according to Business World.

The Department of Health, however, believes that at least 80,000 people will have contracted dengue by the end of the year. Assuming that current fatality rates hold, at least 800 people are expected to die from the disease.

Ona told Business World that the surge in cases is due to the prevalence of four virus strains and a lack of rainfall that has forced people to store water in the open. Standing water is a the breeding ground for dengue’s carrier, the mosquito.

To combat the virus, Ona said that the Department of Health has ordered “dengue express lanes” in hospitals. He also pointed to several ongoing studies, including one of the local herb Tawa-Tawa, that reportedly has a medicinal effect on dengue sufferers.