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DoH warns against rise in leptospirosis cases in next two weeks

Posted on: October 14, 2009

DoH warns against rise in leptospirosis cases in next two weeks

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:25:00 10/14/2009

Filed Under: Diseases, Health

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DoH) on Wednesday warned the public against water-borne disease leptospirosis, which has infected close to 400 Filipinos in Metro Manila, an official said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said after tropical storm Ondoy submerged about 80 percent of the region and nearby provinces, DoH recorded 383 cases from nine hospitals in Metro Manila—a number equal to about half of last year’s annual total of 769 total cases.

Of the 383 cases, about 157 were reported in San Lazaro Hospital, followed by 70 cases at the Medical City and 69 at East Avenue Medical Center, said Duque.

A total of 28 cases were also reported at National Kidney and Transplant Institute, 18 at Quirino Memorial Medical Center, 17 at Philippine General Hospital, 13 at Rizal Medical Center, 10 at Manila Doctors’ Hospital and one at Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Duque added.

“This is a cause for concern since this surge in cases being reported by only nine Metro Manila hospitals already represents about half of last year’s annual figures when we reported 769 cases,” Duque said.

Over the next two weeks, Duque said the DoH expects to see a rise in cases because the virus can incubate in a person between seven to 12 days while symptoms may appear as early as four days or up to a month after exposure to the bacteria.

“We expect cases of leptospirosis to rise in two weeks. We strongly advise anyone who had a history of wading in the recent floods and who has the symptoms to consult a doctor or health facility for treatment and those conducting rescue operations to wear boots as protection against the disease,” said Duque.

Duque also urged the public to protect food from contamination. He urged boiling of drinking water for at least five minutes since the bacteria can live on fresh water but are killed by heat, disinfectant, acids and alkalis.

Leptospirosis is caused by swallowing the bacteria directly from water, absorbing it through cuts in the skin, or through food. Although the disease is commonly associated with rat urine, infection can also come from animals like cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals, said Duque.

Common symptoms are flu-like and include fever, red skin rash, general weakness, headaches, muscle and joint pains, vomiting and fatigue, he added.

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