‘It destroys a person’s life’
ROXAS CITY –The first ever-documented cases of Filariasis, a rare mosquito-borne disease, were found in Tapaz, Capiz last month.
The disease which, if not treated early, results to the weird enlargement of thigh, leg, breast or scrotum, reportedly first afflicted some Tapaz residents as far back as the early 1980s.
Dr. Charles Robles recalled that, back then, he and a fellow doctor used to bring one or two felariasis victims to the Bailan District Hospital for treatment and surgical operations.
But the disease’s effects, like the disfigurement (through enlargement) of some parts of the victim’s body, the pain, among others, usually develop from between 5 to 15 years.
It would also take hundreds and hundreds of female mosquito bites before one gets infected with the disease, according to Provincial Health Officer II Dr. Jarvis O. Punsalan.
Those whose cases are considered severe need surgical operations, it was learned.
It was only very recently when local health authorities initiated random deformity survey among Tapaz residents that the disease was confirmed to be now endemic in Capiz.
There are 40 provinces in the Philippines where Felariasis is considered endemic. Capiz would be the 41st.
The survey, done on Sept. 8-12 this year, was triggered by an earlier discovery of 2 cases of filariasis in Lambunao, a town in Iloilo which is adjacent to Tapaz.
The survey was made by a team of health workers from the Capiz provincial and municipal health offices and the Department of Health in some Tapaz barangays in September this year.
A press release from the Provincial Health office said that of 656 persons from 16 barangays in Tapaz examined, 41 were found positive for having filariasis.
These barangays are Acuña, Tacayan, Buri, Milan, San Julian, Candelaria, Daan Sur, Artuz, Abangay, Santa Pnetronila, Lagdungan, Bato-bato, Mabini, Rizal Norte, Roxas Otso and Tangahin.
These remote villages can be reached from two to six hours by foot.
It was learned that the disease may have no initial symptoms. But it may manifest as recurrent fever, enlarged node, and urine with color similar to rice washing.
Filariasis is a caused by worms transmitted to humans through bites of infected female mosquitoes. These worms can be detected through blood examination.
These mosquitoes usually thrive in abaca, banana, and pandan leaves and in water lilies. Thus, the victims are mostly poor people like farmers or laborers, or those involved in kaingin.
Capiz health officers advise everyone to wear long sleeves and pants when working in the fields, sleep under mosquito nets, use mosquito repellant, and install screens on windows and doors of the house.
They also urge families to get rid of possible mosquito breeding grounds in their homes and consult the nearest health center as soon as any of the symptoms is observed.
In a press conference held Sept. 26, local health officials said taking medicines, which are provided by the government for free through World Health Organization, will stop the progression of the disease and prevent its transmission to others.
They agreed that the while disease is not fatal or life threatening, it leaves untold stigma to the victims.
However, they said, they have yet to monitor cases of severe depression arising from the disease and its “psychological impact” to the victims.
In a tele-conference, Dr. Vicente Vellezario, deputy director of the UP National Institute for Health, said that unlike malaria, felariasis cannot be transmitted through blood transfusion.
He underscored the full support and total involvement of concerned local government units in fighting the disease.
As to the disease’s psychological, social and economic impacts, Dr. Vellezario said the disease results into “diminished” opportunity for work and chances for marriage. “It’s a mental illness that eventually destroys a person’s life,” he said.
During the presccon, Medical Specialist IV Dr. Evelyn T. Bolido briefed members of the media about the disease.
Also present during the presscon was Dr. Rosemarie Delfin, a representative of the Department of Health and other local health officials.
by: Gerry T. Pagharion, The Capiz Times
Capiznon Online talks about everything and anything you want to know about Capiz, its allure, its beauty, the latest issues being talked about, the happenings as well as the latest landmarks, recreational centers, watering holes and all the things that make Capiz truly captivating and bewitching.