Leptospirosis outbreak in the Philippines

“We have also already sent an SOS to the international community because this is the one of the biggest outbreaks not just in the Philippines but in the world…”

This was the statement of Philippine Heath Secretary Francisco Duque III who announced a Leptospirosis outbreak in the flood-affected areas of the Philippines. More than 30 towns are still submerged in floodwaters one month after two strong typhoons hit the country’s capital and nearby provinces.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection affecting both humans and animals. It is acquired through direct contact with the urine of infected animals or by contact with a urine-contaminated environment such as floodwater, soil, and plants. The bacteria enter the body through broken skins, eyes, nose or mouth.

As of October 26, the Department of Health (DOH) has recorded a total of 2,158 cases including 167 deaths. Leptospirosis cases in Metro Manila have increased by as much as 174 percent since last year. Leptospirosis cases reached its peak from October 14 to 19, with hospitals reporting up to 350 cases a day.

Health authorities believe that more than one million people in the provinces south of Metro Manila are at risk of exposure to Leptospirosis, while 700,000 people are vulnerable in Metro Manila.

The government has drafted and distributed the “Interim Guidelines on the Prevention of Leptospirosis through the Use of Prophylaxis in Areas affected by Floods” to guide hospitals in areas vulnerable to Leptospirosis. Bloggers have started reposting relevant articles to inform readers about detecting symptoms of Leptospirosis.

Achieving Happiness warns that aside from Leptospirosis, other diseases are spreading in flooded communities and even in evacuation centers.

Imagine wading and swimming through polluted water. Then imagine your own children doing the same. It’s horrible. It’s dangerous. And now people are sick.

Besides leptospirosis, there’s cholera and the whole gamut of respiratory diseases because of the terrible living conditions in the evacuation centers. Skin diseases also proliferate.

The D Spot hits the delayed information drive of the government about the danger of Leptospirosis. The blogger also emphasizes that Leptospirosis is more dangerous than AH1N1

A large number of patients that consulted and continue to consult the hospitals’ emergency rooms have already developed grave complications—liver, kidney and lung failure. And what does this signify? The illness is already in its late stage.

These complications of Leptospirosis are mostly preventable had these patients been advised properly to take prophylaxis or seek early consult. The sad part is that we have not seen any massive information from DOH or the local government when clearly, Leptospirosis is more deadly than AH1N1, not until lately when the newspapers and television have picked up the stories.

Unlike AH1N1 which made too much noise and controversy, Leptospirosis is an illness which nobody is treating seriously, especially here in the Philippines, probably because it is an old case.

People have suffered enough, losing kith and kin, damage to properties, leaving the scars of Ondoy and Pepeng for the rest of their lives. They should not lose their lives now and those of their remaining loved ones just because of poor information campaign.

Surviving LUPUS observes that Leptospirosis cases went up because residents were forced to walk on flooded streets last month

During the wrath of these two typhoons everyone is focused on saving properties and lives that they have ignored the possibility of getting sick through flood waters. But what choice do you have at that moment, right? Flood water kept rising up, if you don’t move then you’ll get trap for days in your home with a short supply of potable water and food. So now as an aftermath a lot of people are in the hospital because of this disease.

The Paradoxic Ley Line blames the garbage of Manila for the Leptospirosis outbreak

After the flood, the plague came to wreak havoc to the people affected by Typhoon Ondoy. The plague came by the name of leptospirosis.

The back to back attack of the flood and leptospirosis is the end result of the waste mismanagement and blatant throwing of garbage to the streets and waterways. The flood is partly caused by the drainage system rendered useless by garbage. On the other hand, leptospirosis is caused by rats that live on garbage.

The sudden rise of leptospirosis cases and deaths only points to one thing and that is our continued wasteful lifestyle

Allena hopes the government will provide health insurance to flood victims

I really feel sorry about my fellowmen. For sure they do not have enough money for the medication and the hospital bill. I hope they have low cost health insurance to help them pay the medical bills. But it would be much better if the Philippine government would help them.

The Zen of Zero Expectations identifies measures to prevent the spread of Leptospirosis

As for leptospirosis, avoiding flooded areas is key.

Wear protective clothing, gloves and footwear if you have an occupational or recreational risk for exposure to contaminated soil or water. Cover wounds with waterproof dressings.

In general, practice good general sanitation to control the rat population. Remove brush and trash from areas of human habitation and don’t leave food out, especially in parks. Avoid water that may be contaminated with animal urine as this is the primary means of transmitting Leptospira to humans.

Most of us are just being reactive now, but it pays if we practise preventive measures in the days to come.

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