MANILA, Philippines – People in flooded areas are advised to go to the hospital at the first sign of fever to check for possible leptospirosis, the Department of Health announced Tuesday, August 7.
The DOH issued the “lepto” alert following the massive flood that hit Metro Manila and at least 7 other regions across the country.
“Those who will continue to be exposed in possibly contaminated flood waters should take doxycycline 200 mg once weekly,” Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said.
Hospitals should brace for the influx of patients, he added.
How you get leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is a disease that causes fever, muscle pain, headaches and, in some cases, reddish eyes. It is caused by a germ that infects animals and lives in their urine.
The most common way humans get the disease is from water or soil with animal urine in it. The germ can enter the body through cuts, scrapes, or the pink moist tissues lining your mouth, nose and eyes.
Animals that can carry the disease include:
- Rodents, like rats and mice
The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the disease can be prevented by:
- Not swimming in, walking in or swallowing water that may be contaminated by animal urine
- Wearing protective floating and footwear near soil and water that may contain animal urine
- Avoiding contact with body fluids or animal urine, especially if you have cuts or abrasions
- Keeping food and drinks away from animals
- Keeping rats and mice out of your house
Those in the advanced stage of the disease may experience body discoloration (yellowish), dark-colored urine and light stools, severe headache, low urine output, kidney failure, liver and brain damage and respiratory spasm.
The CDC says leptospirosis can develop anywhere from 2-28 days after being exposed to the bacteria. The common initial symptoms include:
- Muscle Aches
- Abdominal Pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Skin Rash
- Red Eyes
Those with symptoms are encouraged to contact a doctor for blood or urine tests. The likely treatment is antibiotics. “Treatment is most effective when started as soon as possible,” says the CDC.
Cases of leptospirosis are rising in the Philippines. From January 1 to July 7, the DOH has recorded a total of 2,003 leptospirosis cases. This reflects a 125.7% increase from 887 cases during same period last year. A total of 97 people died of the illness this year. – Rappler.com
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