Dr. Jonathan Lim on Dengue and Viral Diseases

Dr. Jonathan Lim on Dengue and Viral Diseases | This article was initially published in Philippine Daily Inquirer – 2016

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Every now and then, a viral outbreak comes out causing world panic as it spreads throughout the world and causes fatalities. We see these outbreaks splashed all over news headlines: Ebola, SARS, H1N1, the Zika virus (and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, but this was published years ago…). It is only until a  cure for these viral diseases come out that people start to calm down and carry on with their lives. 

Viral illnesses are caused by viruses, which are infectious microscopic organisms that replicate inside the living cells of other organisms. Viruses are smaller than bacteria and can be transmitted in a number of ways: oral transmission, breathing, blood, sexual contact, etc. 

Dr. Jonathan Lim is the resident pediatric infectious disease specialist in LH Prime  Medical Clinic. “Infectious diseases are a very interesting subspecialty. Dengue, H1N1,  SARS, Ebola, meningococcemia, AIDS, and any infections for that matter, belong to the  exciting and ever-challenging world to conquer.” 

Dr. Lim shares that the most common viral diseases in the Philippines are: influenza,  dengue, measles and rotavirus. Vaccinations are generally the most efficient way to  preclude viruses. A few decades back, viral diseases such as polio, measles and smallpox  would have been lethal. Modern medicine and vaccinations have made these illnesses  rare today. 

Most viral infections such as the common flu need only supportive management like  fluids and sufficient bed rest. However, other serious viral infections need specific  treatments that only your doctor can provide and explain to you. 

Dengue is particularly endemic in Cebu, Dr. Lim notes. His passion led him to join the first Dengue Vaccine Clinical Trial, which started five years ago. Since then over 900  children have been included in Cebu City. Initial results are positive and have been published in peer-reviewed journals worldwide. 

As of today, the dengue vaccine has received license in the Philippines to be given to  those 9 to 45 years of age. They are waiting for stocks to be available, and he projects  that the vaccine will finally be available within 2016.  

Viruses are getting stronger and more dangerous nowadays. They have mutated and have become more and more resistant to antiviral drugs. The latest virus outbreak is the  Zika virus, which is very similar to dengue and is caused by the Aedes Aegypti mosquitos. Zika started in Uganda and has then spread to at least 22 countries worldwide. Thankfully, the Philippines has remained Zika-free, as of writing.  Health authorities at NAIA are on the alert to prevent the possible entry of the virus. The best way to fight the latest outbreak is to observe personal hygiene and proper sanitation and eliminate potential breeding sites of the mosquitos. Remember, we are talking about the same breed of mosquitoes that spread dengue fever.

Dr. Jonathan Lim, Dengue and Viral Diseases, Philippine Daily Inquirer 2016

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