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Published On: Thu, Oct 10th, 2013

Leptospirosis outbreak declared in Olongapo City as case count nears 300

More than a week after massive flooding from a southwest monsoon plagued Olongapo City, the number of cases of the bacterial disease, leptospirosis has gone up sharply to near 300 cases, according to a GMA News report today.

Olongapo City Image/© Mike Gonzalez, 2005. (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ User:TheCoffee)

Olongapo City
Image/© Mike Gonzalez, 2005.
(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
User:TheCoffee)

According to the report, at least 296 people have been diagnosed with leptospirosis, with eight deaths related to the disease.

The number of patients have overwhelmed the James Gordon Memorial Hospital where other parts of the hospital had to be converted to treatment space to accomodate the influx of patients.

The Philippine Red Cross has assisted with supplies, health workers and ambulances to handle the patient load.

It is reported that Health Sec. Dr. Enrique T. Ona is set to visit the city to personally assess the situation.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial zoonotic disease caused by the corkscrew shaped organism, Leptospira. It goes by several other names depending on the locale; mud fever, swamp fever, sugar cane and Fort Bragg fever, among others. It is a disease of both humans and animals.

The rat is the main host to Leptospira. However, other animals such as cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals can carry the bacterium.

People become infected by direct or indirect contact with the urine of these animals. Contact with urine-contaminated water is extremely important. Contaminated food and soil containing animal urine are other potential sources of infection.

The bacterium enters through contact with skin. Especially through cuts or breaks in the skin and through mucous membranes like the eyes.

Found worldwide, it was long considered an occupational disease (miners, farming, vets, and sugarcane harvesting and sewer workers), it is increasingly associated with recreational water sports and camping.

Symptoms of leptospirosis, if present,  appear in up to 4 weeks after exposure. Sometimes the person will show no symptoms or mild flu-likesymptoms.

According to the CDC, Leptospirosis may occur in two phases; after the first phase, with fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea, the patient may recover for a time but become ill again. If a second phase occurs, it is more severe; the person may have kidney or liver failure (jaundice) or meningitis. This phase is also called Weil’s disease.

Leptospirosis is confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood or urine sample.

The infection can be treated with antibiotics (penicillin and doxycycline), especially if started early in the disease. For very ill patients, intensive care support and IV antibiotic may be necessary.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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