Thursday, July 23, 2009


DoH: Sorsogon ‘malaria and filariasis-free’
By Ephraim Aguilar
Inquirer Southern Luzon
First Posted 15:38:00 07/23/2009

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines -- After more than half a century, the Department of Health (DoH) declared Sorsogon province "malaria and filariasis free" on Thursday, Bicol health officials said.

It was a milestone to finally declare the province free of the two infectious diseases, Doctor Nestor Santiago Jr., Bicol regional health director, said.

The province has had cases of malaria and filariasis as early as the 1950s and was only finally declared free of them this year, Dr. Alan Lucañas, infectious disease coordinator of the DoH in Bicol, said.

Representatives from the DoH central office in Manila went to Sorsogon for the declaration.

According to the DoH website, malaria is a disease caused by protozoan parasites called Plasmodium. It is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito.

Its symptoms are chills, fever, too much sweating when the fever subsides, and headache.

Filariasis, which is commonly known as “elephantiasis” because the victim’s legs and arms would swell to a size like those of an elephant’s, is a disease caused by a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes.

Its symptoms are pain and swelling of the breast, vagina, scrotum, legs, and arms; fever, cough, chills, and wheezing.

6 Albay students test positive for H1N1

By Ephraim Aguilar
Inquirer Southern Luzon
First Posted 15:37:00 07/23/2009

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—A Benedictine school in Albay suspended classes Thursday after six of its grade school students tested positive for the Influenza A(H1N1) virus, Bicol health officials reported.

Dr. Alan Lucañas of the Department of Health in Bicol, said Thursday the six students of St. Agnes' Academy in this city were now well but were still under home quarantine.

The St. Agnes' Academy declined to identify the H1N1-infected students and refused to give information to the media.

It only announced that classes would be suspended until August 3.

Provincial and city health officials, in coordination with the school, are now contact tracing or identifying other students or teachers who have had close contact with the victims.

They are also finding out if the victims have traveled recently.

Lucañas said the confirmation of the cases was delayed three weeks because the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine— the technology used for testing and confirming H1N1 cases—in the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Manila, was out of order.

All cases nationwide are being tested in the RITM, which in turn send the results in a matter of three to five days to the regional health offices for intervention.

Lucañas said the three-week period that the results were delayed mattered a lot in the enforcement of precautionary measures in the school.

St. Agnes' Academy reported to the DoH high incidence of fever and colds among its students starting early July.

Dr. Nestor Santiago Jr., Bicol health director, said there were now 28 cases of H1N1 in the entire Bicol region—10 in Albay and 18 in Camarines Sur.

He said there were two suspected cases whose test results were pending.

Santiago said the DOH had already localized its intervention measures against H1N1 virus, devolving them to provincial and city health offices.

Founded in 1912, St. Agnes' Academy is the oldest school in Albay, with now around 3,000 students.

The school is the first to suspend classes in Albay province due to the H1N1 virus.