A Soaring Epidemic
Bacolod City, Philippines – Leptospirosis cases have surged by a staggering 204.5 percent from January 1 to September 2 this year compared to the same period in 2022, according to a report from the City Health Office (CHO) released on Monday.
Since the beginning of this year, there have been 67 reported leptospirosis suspects, with 55 cases still ongoing and 12 resulting in fatalities. In stark contrast, last year witnessed only 22 cases, with five ending in tragedy.
Causes of the Surge
“Some 70 percent of cases have declared exposure or contact with contaminated water or the ground,”
revealed Dr. Grace Tan, head of the CHO Environment Sanitation Division, in the report.
Leptospirosis, primarily contracted through contact with the urine of infected animals, especially rats, causes a bacterial infection called leptospirosis. Exposure to floodwaters can lead to infection, especially among individuals with cuts, wounds, or abrasions on their skin.
The Role of Delayed Action
Tan emphasized that delayed health-seeking behavior and denial of infection are the primary reasons for complications and fatalities due to leptospirosis.
Rising Toll and Vulnerable Areas
The report noted that the two most recent deaths occurred from August 27 to September 2. Several barangays, including Barangays 16, Taculing, Banago, Handumanan, Villamonte, Bata, Pahanocoy, Granada, Singcang-Airport, and Tangub, reported one death each, while Barangay 14 had two fatalities.
Urgent Call for Prophylaxis
Out of the 12 deaths, the last three individuals, aged between 20 and 35, were exposed to flood or drainage water and contaminated water, according to the CHO report. The CHO issued an advisory encouraging both adults and children to take leptospirosis prophylaxis as soon as possible following exposure to potentially contaminated water or ground. Immediate consultation at the nearest health center or with a private medical doctor is essential.
The CHO also stressed the importance of maintaining a clean environment at all times. Uncovered and improperly stored food can sustain rat populations, and garbage serves as their breeding ground. The advisory urged residents to segregate and manage garbage appropriately.
Stay Safe, Stay Informed
In addition, the CHO reminded city residents to avoid wading or coming into contact with floodwater or any damp, dirty ground, soil, or water, as these may contain leptospira organisms.
“Be involved in the prevention and control of the rat population. Also, report to the barangay any uncovered manholes or ditches or open canals or septic vaults,” the advisory concluded.