Health department warns of possible rise in leptospirosis cases
MANILA, Philippines - The health department warns of a possible rise in leptospirosis cases this week following massive flooding that hit Metro Manila and nearby provinces two weeks ago.
Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, DOH program manager for Emerging and Re-Emerging Diseases, said that cases may still be lower compared to those caused by tropical storm "Ondoy" in Sept 2009 because antibiotics have already been distributed among at-risk population.
“Nagpamigay kami ng prophylaxis sa mga at-risk population so hopefully nakatulong iyon para bumaba ang kaso,” he said.
The DOH had distributed Doxycycline tablets, an antibiotic to prevent leptospirosis, to evacuees who had history of wading in flood waters as well as to "frontline responders" like health workers and those involved in rescue and relief missions.
Not for childen, or pregnant and lactating women
Under DOH Memorandum No. 2009-0250, Doxycycline should not be given to pregnant and lactating women and children below eight years old.
The memorandum showed the antibiotic should also not be taken without prior consultation with doctors. Further, that since is not 100-percent effective, concerned individuals should still observe themselves for symptoms.
Lee Suy said since many areas are still submerged in floodwaters, "we cannot really say that there will be no more cases after this week."
He adds, “May mga exposed pa din sa flood so the public should not be complacent. There should be no room for complacency. We hope that the public will have a very good health-seeking behavior,” he said.
Those who waded in floodwater should immediately see a doctor if they develop fever and other symptoms, Lee Suy said.
Rat urine in floodwater
Caused by Leptospira bacteria, leptospirosis is an illness that can be acquired by wading in flood water or getting in contact with soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals, particularly rats. It usually takes three to 10 days before symptoms manifest.
DOH records show that from Jan. 1 to Aug. 11, a total of 2,374 leptospirosis cases were reported to the health department. This is 70.18 percent higher than the 1,395 cases during the same period in 2011.
The DOH said the number of cases was high due to the flashflood that hit Cagayan de Oro late last year. Death toll this year is 121.
After typhoon Ondoy struck Luzon in 2009, more than 2,089 people were treated for leptospirosis in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces and 162 people died from the disease. This was more than five times the number of Leptospirosis deaths in the entire country in 2008. - Rappler.com