6 die of leptospirosis, 132 ill in Olongapo

Randy Datu

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(UPDATED) Residents complain of slow cleanup two weeks after the floods subsided. They fear an outbreak of diseases

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – After heavy flooding devastated Olongapo City and nearby towns of the province of Zambales, at least 6 died of leptospirosis.

At least 132 people were infected with leptospirosis in and around the city, health department epidemiologist for the area Jessie Fantone told Agence France-Presse Wednesday, October 8.

One of the dead had ingested the bacteria while swimming through floodwaters, unlike the rest who caught it through skin exposure, he said.

The Philippine Red Cross initially reported 125 residents confined at the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital on Thursday, October 7.

PRC chairman Richard Gordon told reporters at the Olongapo City Red Cross office Olongapo Mayor Rolen Paulino called him up to ask for assistance.

“There were [so many] patients at the hospital, and they didn’t have enough beds. The Red Cross delivered the beds, and we also deployed 20 Red Cross nurses to help the sick,” Gordon said. 

Gordon identified the 5 of the 6 people who died as:

  • Fredirick Pascua, 20
  • Daryl Mendoza, 23
  • Jesus Bautista, 56
  • Ricardo Manerez, 59
  • Ricardo Johnson, 69

Aside from the beds, the PRC gave prophylaxis against leptospirosis.

Fantone said the 90 infected people who remain in hospital were all likely to survive, but local health authorities expect the number of cases to rise as more people seek treatment

No more space for patients

Employees at the Gordon Memorial Hospital said they have run out of space to accommodate additional patients in the regular rooms. New patients are placed in PRC-provided beds in the corridors and wards.

Gordon also said that he had personally asked for the assistance of the Department of Health to respond to the growing number of leptospirosis cases in Olongapo.

He said that infection poses grave risk to residents which could lead to kidney failure and then death.

“Walking in floodwater with an open wound can get you infected,” Gordon warned. 

Last September 23, flooding in Olongapo reached historic proportions, affecting 16 out of 17 villages.

Slow clean-up efforts?

Gordon noted that among the villages hit in Olongapo, Sta. Rita recorded the highest level of floods and sustained maximum damage.

“Aside from the usual assistance to the victims of flooding there, the Red Cross also gave P3 million worth of imported shoes to school children, so they could use it for school,” Gordon said. 

Affected residents of Olongapo City are dismayed at the city government’s slow clean-up efforts.

In the village of Sta. Rita, the most affected area in Olongapo, residents complain that mud and piles of uncollected garbage are still littering the streets nearly two weeks after the flood waters receded. T

Residents fear there will be an outbreak of disease due to the uncollected garbage since the floods subsided.

“Even if we survive the flooding, if the clean up is slow, we can still be victims of disease” from uncollected garbage, said Jay-Ar Carreon, 28, of Sta. Rita village.

Jayson Joven Morales posted a photo on Facebook, showing how puddles remain on roads, which are still muddy.

They are causing difficulty to daycare students and churchgoers, he said. “If we turn a blind eye to this, nothing will happen.” – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com 


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