(dpa) - Erratic weather conditions have triggered a dangerous dengue outbreak in a southern Philippine city, health officials said Saturday.
Health officials in Zamboanga City, 875 kilometres south of Manila, said a total of 642 people were afflicted with the disease in the first three months of the year, more than 400 per cent higher than the 144 cases recorded for the same period last year.
Rodelin Agbulos, city health officer, said more people are still catching the mosquito-borne disease which is characterized by high fever and could be fatal.
"The number of cases this year has reached beyond the epidemic levels recorded in 2005 and 2007," he said. "The increase is recorded despite our aggressive efforts to address the problem."
Aristedes Tan, a regional health director, traced the alarming rise in dengue cases in Zamboanga to erratic weather conditions.
"We experience rain at night and extremely sunny and hot weather during day time," he said. "There is also irregular community participation in the search and destroy operations for mosquitoes' breeding sites."
Dengue is endemic to the Philippines. Its symptoms are high fever that could last from two to 10 days and headache accompanied by loss of appetite, vomiting, red skin rashes and abdominal pain.
In the first quarter of 2008, at least 67 people in the Philippines have died due to dengue, up 36 per cent from the 49 people who died from the disease in the same period last year.
In 2007, 407 people have died from dengue in the country, while 43,938 cases were reported. In the first quarter of the year a total of 6,653 cases have been reported.