DOH warns of upsurge in dengue, leptospirosis infections amid nonstop rains
Marje Pelayo • July 19, 2018 • 4267
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) sees spike in the number of dengue and leptospirosis cases following the series of downpours that caused flooding in some areas.
According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, reported leptospirosis cases have reached 623 from January 1 to July 14 this year with 68 deaths.
While dengue cases rose to 8,223 which is 17% higher than the reported cases in the same period last year.
“This rainy season of the last 2- 3 days, we expect again an upsurge in the number of leptospirosis and dengue cases…It’s always alarming if we have deaths so certainly because we have reported deaths,” Duque said.
The DOH previously declared an outbreak on leptospirosis in 29 villages in Metro Manila. Most of the cases were reported in Quezon City which reached 201.
In order to prevent any increase in the said number and to make the residents aware of the symptoms and prevention of dengue and leptospirosis, Duque made rounds in some flooded villages on Wednesday (July 18).
Secretary Duque reminds the public to seek medical consultation when symptoms appear instead of just taking doxycycline as this may lead to antimicrobial resistance.
“So kung hindi naman nalusong sa baha, wala ring epekto naman. Mahirap lang baka magkaroon pa ng antimicrobial resistance which is something that we would like to avoid.”
Duque further advises the public to seek a doctor’s advice on the correct antibiotic to use because doxycycline is not suitable to be taken by everyone such as pregnant women. – UNTV News and Rescue
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) wants to look into research-based technologies to address the dengue problem in the country.
DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said the department has funded several research projects and programs to aid in addressing the different aspects of the disease.
“Through the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, we have funded a number of research projects and programs consistent with the multi-prong approach in the control of dengue that address different aspects such as diagnosis and treatment,” he said.
One of the researches supported by the DOST is the Biotek M which is a rapid diagnostic test for dengue. This kit can diagnose dengue as early as two to three days after the onset of illness.
They are also looking into a possible herbal medicine for dengue.
“Dengue research and development has always been one of the priority research areas in the country. This is stated in the Harmonized National Research and Development Agenda led by the DOST,” said Sec. de la Peña.—AAC
The risk of getting water-borne illnesses, like leptospirosis, is often much greater during the rainy season.
Health experts said this is because floodwaters and other extreme weather-related events cause rodents and other wild and domesticated species to move into the city.
In the Philippines, cases of leptospirosis have been spiking in the recent weeks due to rains and heavy flooding.
Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that from January 1 to August 3 this year, more than 900 cases of leptospirosis were recorded, 300 of which are from Metro Manila. Out of these cases, 106 fatalities were reported.
According to the World Health Organization, leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals. It is an infection in both wild and domesticated animals but rodents are implicated most often in human cases.
Human infection can occur through “direct contact with the urine of infected animals or with a urine-contaminated environment such as surface water, soil and plants.”
The most common route of infection is exposure to water contaminated by urine, such as floodwaters, and through skin abrasions and the mucus of the nose, mouth and eyes.
How leptospirosis affects your body?
Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Cybele Abad, in an interview with UNTV Digital program Lifesaver, said that when leptospirosis bacteria enter the body, it spreads through blood and infects the cells.
“Kapag halimbawa after ng isang bagyo tapos lumusong sa baha tapos may bukas na sugat sa paa, usually pwedeng makapasok yung Leptospirosis (bacteria) sa open wound sa paa… Tapos dala ng dugo, iikot sa buong katawan yung leptospiros at magkakaroon ng mga sintomas ng leptospirosis,” Abad said.
Watch this online episode of Lifesaver for more information on how leptospirosis affects your body.
Signs and Symptoms
The time between a person’s exposure to a contaminated source and becoming sick is two to four days.
In the early stages of the disease, symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness of the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, haemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash.
But according to Abad, many of leptospirosis’ symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases, so it is important for a person suspected with this infection to seek immediate medical consultation and tests.
“Kapag (tingin) po na may posibilidad na leptospirosis, kailangan dalhin sa ospital para mabantayan yung mga sintomas. Kailangan din pong ma-diagnose ito, usually through some blood test, puwedeng blood culture o kaya may diagnostic test para malaman kung leptospirosis or hindi,” she said.
What to do to prevent infection?
To avoid leptospirosis, health experts advise the public to take up measures, which include:
Avoiding swimming or wading in potentially contaminated water or flood water.
Use of proper protection like boots and gloves when work requires exposure to contaminated water.
Draining of potentially contaminated water when possible.
Control rats in the household by using rat traps or rat poison, maintaining cleanliness in the house.
The illness usually lasts for a few days to three weeks or longer and can be treated with antibiotics. But without treatment, recovery may take several months.
The more severe phase of the disease may lead a person to have kidney or liver failure or meningitis.
Lifesaver is a UNTV Digital program that offers basic first aid training essential to anyone who happens to be a bystander to an accident or emergency. It also educates viewers of imperative emergency response lessons and indispensable disaster preparedness tools to be able to save lives in times of calamities.
For more information on dengue, other basic first aid and emergency response tips, visit Lifesaver’s Youtube and Facebook accounts.
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