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Published On: Thu, Aug 22nd, 2013

Philippines starts leptospirosis prevention in the wake of massive flooding from Typhoon Maring

Tropical Storm Trami (locally known as Maring) left the Philippines, Manila in particular,  in havoc with incessant rains that resulted in days of flooding and at least 17 deaths.

Image/Anne Curtis Facebook Fan page

Image/Anne Curtis Facebook Fan page

Heavy rains and thunderstorms battered Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon overnight on 19 August and on 20 August at some points dropping two inches of rain an hour on the sprawling metropolis.

One account of the amount of rain said that one day’s worth of rain was equal to a month’s rainfall and some areas the flooding was “neck-deep”.

Tens of thousands of people are in evacuation centers or sought refuge with family or friends. Dozens of bridges and roads were inpassible, sevearl hospitals were flooded and numerous homes were damaged.

Today, some of the concern is now centered on the health aftermath of such extensive flooding, leptospirosis in particular.

The Inquirer reports Thursday that the Philippines Department of Health have begun the distribution of doxycycline (an antibiotic) in an effort the prevent the spread of the potentially life-threatening bacterial infection.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the DOH has distributed prophylactic doxycycline in the National Capital Region (NCR), Calabarzon and Central Luzon—the regions that have been severely affected by the floods and monsoon rains.

Health officials also advise against wading in the flood waters, but if you have to, to wear protective clothing or gear.

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.

Image-CDC/Janice Haney Carr

Image-CDC/Janice Haney Carr

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.

Eduardo Janairo, the DOH-NCR regional director said the regional epidemiology surveillance unit has reported that 133 leptospirosis cases, including 10 deaths, were admitted from Jan. 1 to Aug. 10 this year.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

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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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  1. Manila reports spike in leptospirosis in the aftermath of August floods - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] massive flooding spawned by Tropical Storm Trami (locally known as Maring) in late August left health officials going into high gear in […]

  2. Leptospirosis | Find Me A Cure says:

    […] Philippines starts leptospirosis prevention in the wake of massive flooding from Typhoon Maring […]

  3. Weather Ngayon | Philippines starts leptospirosis prevention in the wake of massive flooding … – The Global Dispatch (August 22, 2013 at 11:15PM) says:

    […] Philippines starts leptospirosis prevention in the wake of massive flooding …The Global DispatchTropical Storm Trami (locally known as Maring) left the Philippines, Manila in particular, in havoc with incessant rains that resulted in days of flooding and at least 17 deaths. Image/Anne Curtis Facebook Fan page. Heavy rains and thunderstorms …and more » […]

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