This year has seen a noticeable mount of dengue cases in the country. According to the Department of Health‟s Dengue Surveillance Report, 95,142 victims have been affected by the mosquito-born disease in the first nine months of 2012 alone. A significant 12.94% increase from last year‟s same period, this turnaround left even school administration to be more vigilant and take extra preventive measures against the dreaded disease.
The widespread transmission of dengue
The hasty transmission of the resilient virus has led school administrators, particularly the Lourdes School of Mandaluyong (LSM), to ascertain that the mosquito vector‟s highly adaptable quality is partly to blame. “These mosquitoes can easily adapt to changes in the environment, find new places to breed and even effortlessly adjust to human settlements. Previous efforts like defogging would only temporarily drive mosquitoes away, and they would be here again to look for a new prey,” shares Ana Eva Bolinao, School Principal of LSM. Bolinao also reveals that the school has recorded 20 cases of dengue out of its total population of about 1,200 high school and grade school students.
The widespread resurgence of dengue may also be attributed to the latest discovery of experts of another mosquito vector stalking the city. Historically, dengue infection in the country had been attributed to the mosquito species Aedes aegypti, whose attack is far more common during the day. Entomologists have recently reported the presence of Aedes albopictus, a once confined species to forested areas, now in cities where people live. A secondary vector of the dengue virus, Ae. albopictus is as lethal as the Ae. aegypti and was found to be an active biter at late afternoon and even at night.
Preventive measures against dengue
Dr. Raymond Manuel, Pediatrician and School Physician of LSM shares that cleaning campaigns like defogging has been carried out in school premises usually after classes to destroy possible mosquito breeding grounds. However the school physician discloses that apart from mosquito larva killing and eliminating pools of stagnant water, the most effective dengue preventive measure are awareness campaigns. “Though we have adequate knowledge related to the disease „dengue,‟ others do not have sufficient knowledge about the virus. And while we have a number of preventive practices against the disease like defogging, its effectiveness against dengue will be very minimal if the victims themselves aren‟t well-informed of the dengue-carrying mosquitoes,” stresses Dr. Manuel. School-aged children, especially those below 10 years old, appeared to be more susceptible to dengue virus.
These kids have fewer antibodies that are considered necessary to protect themselves against infections and illnesses, dengue included.
The school has already incorporated dengue information dissemination campaign in classroom discussions during the students‟ science subject. This not only creates an opportunity for teachers to lead the class about the dangers of the disease, it all the more builds the students’ knowledge from symptoms to preventive measures.
The Green Cross School Crashers
Very timely is the Green Cross School Crashers campaign which was recently launched at LSM and at several Metro Manila schools. As Green Cross sees the vital importance of awareness campaigns, it embarks a Day and Night Dengue Defense drive to acquaint young students and parents alike on facts about dengue. Through the Green Cross School Crashers, students get to understand the disease, its symptoms, and defensive measures in a fun and interactive way.
During the Green Cross School Crashers activity, grade school students meet Ms. Green, a Green Cross Insect Repellent Ambassador, and two costumed character mascots, Daytime Dengue Lamok (Ae. aegypti) and Nighttime Dengue Lamok (Ae. albopictus). The lessons are taught through interactive storytelling where kids learn all about dengue prevention and the dangers of dengue.
Children do not only learn about the harmful day and night dengue lamok but also get to take home educational brochures they may share with family members. Aside from useful tips to keep their homes and community from becoming the breeding sites of dengue lamok, the leaflet has fun activities inside and even a survey form kids can answer and get a chance to take home a limited edition school supply kit.
The best line of defense
Though there are a number of initiatives to prevent breeding sites and protect oneself from dengue, the best line of defense is still personal protection. The use of insect repellents is highly advisable especially to protect those exposed skin one can not cover up with long-sleeved tops or pants. And the only proven protection against day and night dengue lamok is the new Green Cross Insect Repellent Lotion. It protects you from harmful mosquitoes for up to 10 hours. It also has an antibacterial formulation proven to kill up to 99.9% of disease-causing germs, a benefit which Green Cross brand has always been known for. Green Cross Insect Repellent Lotion is especially formulated to give complete protection from dengue mosquito bites, offering up to 10 hours protection per application.
There are a number of effective, eco-friendly and sustainable strategies to combat dengue. Both the local government and school administration are sharing collaborative efforts in stopping the spread of this dreaded disease. Awareness campaigns are of vital importance and the Green Cross School Crashers is a welcome effort to control the spread of dengue virus. Several schools have joined and discovered this innovative way to defend oneself against dengue. Enlist your school in the Green Cross School Crashers. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/greencrossphilippinesor call the Green Cross School Crashers hotline at 0917 976 5980.
Source: Department of Health Disease Surveillance Report Morbidity Week 35, Aug. 26 – Sept 1, 2012