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Developing Rapid Dengue Test Kit

Since the start of the year, no dengue outbreak and no clustering of cases in any part of the country have been reported, largely due to the intensified efforts to curb the disease. The public is constantly reminded to take precautions against mosquitoes by following the 4-S strategy of the Department of Health (DoH): Search and destroy, Self-protection, Seek early treatment, and Say no to indiscriminate fogging.

Scientists from the Institute of Molecular Biology-National Institute of Health of the University of the Philippines-Manila have developed an inexpensive rapid test kit for dengue which is being pilot-tested in three hospitals in Metro Manila – Rizal Medical Center, National Children’s Hospital, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center. Clinical validation of the research is in process, as part of regulatory compliance before commercial release, and it is showing “promising results,” say project proponents. The one-step dengue test is expected to translate to better delivery of healthcare s it will enable doctors to diagnose, in just one hour, dengue at the onset of fever. Dengue is currently diagnosed within five to seven days after the onset of fever. Development of the rapid dengue test kit is funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development as part of government’s anti-dengue program.

Clinical tests for the first vaccine for dengue are also now being done and the new vaccine may be ready by 2014. Health officials assure that the new vaccine is safe, but more tests are being conducted to determine side effects.

Dengue continues to be a major public health concern. It is prevalent in tropical countries like the Philippines. The way to prevent it is to control mosquito populations through eliminating breeding sites. The dengue-carrier, a black with white spots mosquito called Aedes Aegypti, breeds in stagnant water. Clothing, mosquito repellent, and netting can help reduce exposure. Appropriate medical care can save lives. Anyone can fall ill with dengue anytime during the year but the number of patients increases during the rainy season. From January 1 to February 4 this year, DoH records show that there are 1,753 cases; the National Capital Region had the biggest number of cases – 118.

Dengue fever is fatal but can be treated and prevented, with early detection and prompt treatment. The rapid test kit as well as the vaccine being tested could boost the campaign to decrease dengue mortality. The coordinated action by government agencies can also help curb the spread of the disease.

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