Dumpsite blamed for Olongapo leptospirosis outbreak

Randy Datu
Hospital records show that 11 patients with leptospirosis have died, while 500 are infected with the deadly disease

RAT-INFESTED. Residents of Barangay New Cabalan say rats that brought about the leptospirosis outbreak in Olongapo came from this dumpsite. Photo by Randy Datu/Rappler

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – A rat infestation in a village dumpsite here may have been the source of the leptospirosis outbreak in Olongapo City.

According to records at the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital, 11 patients with leptospirosis have died, while another 500 more are infected with the deadly disease.

Daisy Diaz, 49, a resident of New Cabalan, said that it was likely that most of the contaminated water flowed down from the open dumpsite here. Because it sits atop a mountain, New Cabalan is the only village that was not flooded last September 23 when heavy monsoon rains swamped Olongapo. 

The dumpsite, which was supposed to be turned into a modern sanitary landfill, is now a source of concern for residents in nearby areas.

Diaz said that the rat infestation in the site is so bad “that rats scare away the cats around here. There are just so many of them.”

She said that she and her neighbors have already expressed their alarm to local government officials because “at night, they go to our houses, and bite the children.”

The filth around the area is enough to get anyone sick, she said.

Caught unprepared

Jeraldine, a store owner who lives nearby, said that rats scamper “on our roofs at night. They even try to [break through] the ceiling.”

She said that the infestation has reached alarming proportions in the area and that “when it rains, the flow of water is headed [towards] Olongapo.”

Diaz said that there could be no other reason for the sudden rise of leptospirosis cases in Olongapo except for the dumpsite.

Olongapo Mayor Rolen Paulino, meanwhile, blamed the leptospirosis outbreak on an abandoned mine in the province of Zambales.

In a post on social networking site Facebook, Paulino said that an abandoned mine at the back of Subic town and Castillejos was the culprit for the outbreak.

“There’s a million rats there,” he said, claiming that when heavy rainfall fell on the mine, floodwater caused the leptospirosis outbreak not only in Olongapo, but even in some towns in Zambales.

Refuting residents who complained that the local government was not prepared for the outbreak of disease, Paulino said that as early as the first day, the head of the city health department was already giving doxycycline to all villages.

Paulino, however, claimed that those who were infected with lepstospirosis were those who were affected by the heavy flooding “very early in the morning.” – Rappler.com 

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.