Former PSMID president Rontgene Solante said their group’s members observed that more people are consulting them for influenza while the 153,659 cases of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported to the Department of Health from Jan. 1 to Dec. 15, 2018 is 17 percent lower than the 127,632 cases reported during the same period in 2017.
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Doctors warn of rise in influenza A, B cases
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) yesterday asked the public to get flu shots, warning that there has been an increase in cases of influenza A and B in the past months.

Former PSMID president Rontgene Solante said their group’s members observed that more people are consulting them for influenza while the 153,659 cases of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported to the Department of Health from Jan. 1 to Dec. 15, 2018 is 17 percent lower than the 127,632 cases reported during the same period in 2017.

He said the increase could be because the country “may have an early flu season compared to previous years and mainly reflect on the unpredictability of the influenza virus.”

Solante noted it could be attributed to the “extremely low rate of our flu vaccination last year as a collateral effect of the vaccine scare” created by the Dengavaxia controversy.

He added that overall, influenza H1N1 – a strain of influenza A – is still the “predominant circulating flu virus” in the Philippines but they found that many patients are infected with influenza B.

Four strains

Solante told The STAR that people must make sure that they get vaccines that would protect them from two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B.

Aside from H1N1, the other strain of influenza A is H3N2. The two strains of influenza B are the Yamagata and Victoria.

Solante said two years ago, the “quadrivalent vaccine” became available, containing “antigens of both A and B strains of the influenza virus.”

Prior to this, the “trivalent vaccine” was the one available and this addresses only two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B.

Solante, however, said a “lot of clinicians are not aware of the importance of flu vaccine that’s why Filipinos did not receive the (quadrivalent) vaccine.”

He warned that unless “we change our mindset on (influenza vaccination), we will see cases increasing further.”

For his part, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also underscored the need for people to undergo flu vaccination, especially the old and the young and those who are “immunocompromised” because of underlying illnesses like diabetes, heart ailments and cancer.

“Influenza-like illness is the fourth leading cause of death in our country. Most at risk are those with underlying conditions,” he said.

Duque added aside from vaccination, the public should also observe precautionary measures like good hygiene, hand washing and cough etiquette. 

FLU SHOTS INFLUENZA PHILIPPINE SOCIETY FOR MICROBIOLOGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES
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