DOH: No dengue breeding grounds at Philippine Children's Medical Center

ILOCOS SUR, Philippines – After an initial investigation into the upsurge of dengue cases at the Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC), the Department of Health (DOH) ruled out the possibility that there were breeding grounds for mosquitos carrying the virus inside the hospital.

In a forum of health journalists, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo on Wednesday, September 26, said: "Within the hospital, yes [there are no breeding grounds for mosquitos], pero may nakita na sila sa mga tabi-tabi (but there were some seen in nearby areas)."

For now, the DOH is still trying to determine the source of the dengue, though Domingo hinted at the possibility that it came from a nearby construction site in Quezon City.

Domingo also said their team found that from January to September 2018, 15 employees out of the 1,018 at the PCMC got dengue. This includes the 5 doctors earlier reported to have contracted dengue in September.

"Of course, it's still alarming that people who are working in one place got dengue," he said, noting that 8 of the 15 employees who had dengue were also from Quezon City.

While 14 of the 15 fully recovered, a PCMC fellow from Baguio City, died. (READ: Doctor at Philippine Children's Medical Center dies of severe dengue)

Meanwhile, Domingo assured the public that no patients who were admitted to the PCMC for other illnesses got dengue.

How many cases have been recorded? The DOH said there was an increase in dengue cases since May 2018, possibly due to the onset of the rainy season. While dengue is a threat throughout the year, the disease usually peaks during the rainy season.

PCMC spokesperson Dr Sonia Gonzalez told Rappler that the hospital has had an average of 100 dengue cases per month since June this year, compared to the 25 monthly cases it previously observed.

Gonzalez said the most number of cases was seen in August, when the hospital recorded 214 cases of dengue. There were also 92 cases of dengue recorded as of September 15.

What is being done about it? Domingo said the PCMC has intensified its measures to control and prevent dengue, including widening the scope of its information campaign to patients and their families, as well as hospital visitors.

The PCMC has also restricted children 7 years old and below from entering the hospital unless they are patients.

It also set up an early reporting system for employees showing symptoms of dengue, and surveillance of dengue cases was heightened. Personnel also continue to search for possible breeding grounds of mosquitos, while rooms were misted and fogged.

The health department is also in the process of completing an epidemiological study and environmental survey.

The DOH's investigation team was composed of doctors from the Epidemiology Bureau, the Metro Manila Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, the Quezon City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. – Rappler.com

(Editor's Note: The original version of this report revealed the identity of the doctor who died, which Rappler had confirmed with a relative and the Philippine Children's Medical Center. We removed it upon the request of her husband.) 

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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