On the fourth day of the new year, I lost my voice. I was clueless about how I ended up with a very itchy throat that was followed by my voice getting hoarse for half a day, leaving me barely able to speak. What made matters worse was the urge to cough every now and then, as my chest felt heavy, my nose was stuffy, and my throat very itchy. Believe me, all you want to do is force yourself to cough just to feel relieved from the discomfort.
When nighttime came, I felt a bit feverish. I took paracetamol and anti-allergy medicine, thinking that feeling under the weather at that time would be temporary and would all be gone after I got some good sleep since I had to travel out of town the next morning to attend my oath-taking as a Licensed Professional Teacher. Morning came, but I was still unwell. My temperature was normal; however, my body was telling me it was not okay. I thought maybe a few more good sleeps would solve the problem. Since I did not have a fever, I decided to push through with the trip, and besides, I did not want to miss that oath-taking.
To my surprise, on the day of the oath-taking, many fellow Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET) passers at the Iloilo Convention Center (ICON) were experiencing the same symptoms as mine. When I sought consultation from a doctor, I was told that it was flu season, and I was exhibiting symptoms of influenza.
ReliefWeb, a humanitarian information service provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, warned about emerging diseases as early as January 10 this year. Among the emerging diseases the public must look out for, aside from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), are diarrhea, Influenza A/H1N1, Influenza B, dengue, and typhoid.
The January article cited rising cases of Swine flu (Influenza A/H1N1) in Ludhiana, Punjab, India, with 17 confirmed cases but no reported deaths as of January 1, 2024. The first case was reported on December 8, and on the day the story was published, 8 patients were receiving treatment in a hospital. Flu corners were established in the hospital, and the public was advised to avoid crowded places. Wearing masks was recommended for those who are out in public places to prevent the spread of droplet infection.
Meanwhile, in French Polynesia, a fresh incident of locally acquired dengue fever emerged in Mahina, where the individual had no recent travel record. This development led health authorities to raise the dengue alert level to Level 2. Of concern is the fact that, despite the presence of mosquitoes capable of transmitting the virus, French Polynesia had remained free from dengue circulation for three years.
In the Philippines, apart from the escalating cases of the severe flu, the OCHA observed a 335% surge in measles and rubella cases reported in the country during the first 11 months of 2023. The data was compared to the corresponding period in 2022, referencing records from the Department of Health and the Philippine News Agency as sources. The PNA documented a 45% rise in cases of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) between January 1 and October 13 of the previous year, totaling 151,375 ILI cases.
In Negros Occidental, the Provincial Health Office has documented 2,675 instances of influenza-like illnesses in 2023, resulting in 65 fatalities. This marks a 312.17 percent increase compared to the 649 cases reported in 2022.
Furthermore, the PHO observed an increase in symptoms resembling ILI in the initial two weeks of 2024. Influenza-like illness is characterized by the presence of fever or sudden onset accompanied by chills, headache, malaise, myalgia, cough, pharyngitis, and other respiratory issues.
Dr. Ma. Girlie Pinongan, the Provincial Health Officer, attributes the rise in ILI cases to shifting weather patterns. She advises parents with children showing ILI symptoms to promptly seek consultation to prevent the condition from progressing into pneumonia.
With an understanding of what is causing illness in many people from the beginning of January until now, how can we safeguard ourselves and our families from ILI? According to medical professionals, it is advised to pursue early antiviral treatment using neuraminidase inhibitors (such as oral oseltamivir or inhaled zanamivir) for individuals with suspected or confirmed influenza, especially those experiencing severe illness or those at a high risk of influenza complications, including individuals with asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
The emphasis from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention lies in being aware of the symptoms and strictly adhering to measures that can prevent the virus’ spread. This includes getting vaccinated, avoiding travel when unwell, and practicing physical distancing (approximately 6 feet) while also wearing a mask.
Now that we are aware, there’s no excuse for not promptly recognizing ILI symptoms and inadvertently making a loved one or a co-worker unwell.
KOREAN UNIVERSITY AWARDS EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO STIWNU SCHOLARS
Keimyung University, based in South Korea, has granted financial support for the education of pre-selected college students at STI West Negros University in Bacolod City.
Jung Soo Seo, the Dean of Keimyung’s Adams College, stated that he and two other university administrators accompanied 29 KU students on a community service mission in the municipality of Murcia in Negros Occidental from January 12 to 14. Engaging in volunteer community service is one of the ways their university can repay what they received from missionaries from the United States 125 years ago.
In his speech during the awarding rites at the Teodoro Hall of STIWNU, Seo mentioned that in addition to engaging in voluntary community service, their university provides financial assistance to selected secondary and tertiary level students, along with research grants offered to both faculty and students.
The beneficiary of their voluntary community service was Manuel Regalado Elementary School in Murcia. He added that they also distributed financial assistance to 11 high school students in Murcia.
Meanwhile, at the awarding ceremonies in STIWNU, Queen Shanly Morados, a Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in English student, thanked KU for the financial support given to her and 6 other scholars.
“Being one of the selected students to receive the grant is an immense honor, and we are genuinely thankful for the trust and confidence you have bestowed upon us. The partnership between Keimyung University and STIWNU is more than just a collaboration; it is a shining beacon of educational excellence. The unwavering support and resources that will be provided to students like us, the scholars, exemplify the shared commitment to nurturing academic achievements, as well as personal and professional growth,” said Morados.
The six other scholars include John Kenneth Tiad from the College of Business Management and Accountancy, Jade Villarez from the College of Information and Communications Technology, Angel Villan from the College of Arts & Sciences, Jezryl Cabaya from the College of Criminal Justice Education, Kia Kaytlyr Seva from the College of Engineering, and Arnelia Mitch Eder from the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Each student was awarded a certificate of fellowship and received 200 US dollars or more or less P10,000 from Keimyung University.
“While the amount may not be substantial, we trust it will support your education and contribute to your future growth. We hope you will excel in your studies and eventually emerge as a leader in your university, community, city, province, and country, making a positive impact on the global stage. Despite the rapidly changing world and the imminent future, it is crucial for you to persist in your studies, preparing yourself for what lies ahead,” said Seo.
KU maintains an ongoing partnership with STIWNU, with both universities striving to foster academic and cultural exchange in education and research, among other areas.*