Officials with the Dagupan City Health Office (CHO) reported 34 leptospirosis cases in the month of August, a 143 percent increase compared to August 2017 when only 14 cases were reported. Nine deaths have been reported.

Image/Philippines DOH
Image/Philippines DOH

Nineteen or the city’s 31 barangays (villages) reported cases, according to City health officer, Dr. Ophelia Rivera.

Dr Rivera notes that the surge in cases is due to the severe and prolonged flooding in the city, which began on July 21.

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The situation in Dagupan is not at this time considered an outbreak since the higher number of cases are expected due to aftermath of the calamity experienced by the city.

Distribution of antibiotic prophylaxis continues while the barangay officials are being advised to conduct clean-up drive not only to prevent leptospirosis but also dengue.

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.

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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.

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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.