By William Casis | FilAm Star Correspondent
A high-ranking official of the Department of Health (DoH) said leptospirosis, a
bacterial infection caused by contact with rodent urine, has claimed the lives of 99 people nationwide during the first semester of this year.
Health Undersec. Eric Domingo said the fatality rate of leptospirosis is a bit high, almost 10 percent. “Out of 1,000 infected, we have confirmed that 99 died,” he added.
He said cases of leptospirosis increased last week due to heavy rains that caused massive flooding.He said floodwaters contaminated with rat urine swamped large parts of the country.
He described as “alarming” the report that state kidney hospital recorded 6 leptospirosis deaths in three days.
He said among the symptoms of leptospirosis, which may emerge up to 30 days after wading in contaminated waters, are fever, headache, muscle pain, jaundice, difficulty in peeing and coughing up blood.
He urged those possibly exposed to rat urine to take anti-leptospirosis antibiotics and immediately consult doctors upon experiencing symptoms.
In a statement issued last June 27, the DoH said there were 1,030 cases of leptospirosis reported nationwide from January 1 to June 9, which is 41 percent higher than the number recorded during the same period last year.
Of this number, 339 were laboratory-tested and 77 turned positive for Leptospirosis. There were 93 deaths recorded but Domingo said it’s 99.
“We can prevent complications of leptospirosis when its flu-like symptoms are recognized early and treated immediately. My advice to those who had to wade in the flood these past few days is to be alert for any symptom and to seek early consultation,” Health Sec. Francisco Duque III declared.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Leptospira spirochetes bacteria that is spread through the urine of infected animals, especially rats. Its modes of transmission include wading in contaminated floodwaters, ingesting contaminated food or water.
The bacterium has an incubation period of seven to 10 days before symptoms appear.
Symptoms of the disease include high fever, muscle pain, eye redness, chills, severe headache, vomiting, diarrhea, or yellowish skin discoloration.
If left untreated, leptospirosis may cause kidney failure, brain damage, massive internal bleeding, and death.
Ages of the 1,030 cases ranged from one to 88 years. Majority (872 or 85 percent) were male. Most of the cases came from Western Visayas (221), Caraga (162), and Region XI (86).
“Still, the best way is prevention. Avoid, if you can, wading in floodwaters to prevent being infected by the Leptospira bacteria. Or use boots when it cannot be avoided and go to the nearest health center if you have fever for two days,” the health chief said.