Region IV-B, or the MIMAROPA region of the Philippines consists of  the provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan in the eastern part of the country.

Former Typhoon Nona, internationally known as Melor, struck the central regions of the country about three weeks ago killing 42 people and causing about US$64.3 million in damage.

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

In addition to the devastation, particularly in Oriental Mindoro, the typhoon left behind flooding and a total of 50 suspected cases of leptospirosis recorded in Oriental Mindoro, particularly in the cities of Baco, Naujan, Gloria, San Teodoro and Calapan City, from December 27 2015 to December 31, 2015. Of the total, four fatalities due to leptospirosis have been recorded, according to local media (computer translated).

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.

Philippines DOH issues health advisory post- Typhoon Nona

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.


Robert Herriman is a microbiologist, Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and host of the talk radio program, Outbreak News This Week 

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