The number of leptospirosis cases reported during the first three months of 2017 in the Philippines is up by 67.7 percent compared to the period in 2016, according to a report (computer translated).

Leptospirosis/Philippines DOH Facebook page
Leptospirosis/Philippines DOH Facebook page

Data from the Public Health Division of Epidemiology Surveillance Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH) recorded a total of 337 cases of the disease across the country from January 1 to March 25, 2017, including 30 fatalities.

This compares to 201 cases reported during the same tine in 2016.

The National Capital Region (NCR) has seen the most cases at 60.

Leptospirosis is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Leptospira interrogans, is often referred to as “rat fever” due to the principal role rats play in spreading the disease (scientists refer this type of animal as a reservoir host).  Other animals can also be important reservoirs of the disease.

These animals can spread the disease in their urine, contaminating water, soil, or food.  People who live in close contact with domestic animals or wildlife are at higher risk for getting the disease.

People become infected by coming into contact with contaminated urine, water, food, or soil through breaks in the skin, eyes, mouth, or nose. Outbreaks of leptospirosis are usually caused by exposure to contaminated water, such as floodwaters. Person to person transmission is rare.

Infected individuals initially experience fever, severe headache and muscle aches, abdominal pain, and occasionally a skin rash. Patients in the later stages of disease can suffer from jaundice, kidney failure, bleeding from the mouth or nose, bloody urine and can be fatal, especially without proper treatment.