Public warned of dengue, leptospirosisBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
ILOILO CITY—Now that the rainy season has started, health officials in Western Visayas have warned the public against water-borne diseases especially with the rise of the number of cases of dengue and leptospirosis.
Based on records from the Department of Health (DOH) in Western Visayas, 1,472 dengue fever cases with 26 deaths were reported from January to May 26 this year. This number is higher than the 1,030 cases with 15 deaths for the same period last year.
The increase in the number of cases was recorded in Iloilo and other provinces on Panay Island while there was a reduction of cases in Negros Occidental which had the most number of cases last year, said regional epidemiologist Dr. Jessie Glen Alonsabe.
He urged the public to clean potential breeding places of the dengue-carrying mosquitoes. These measures have proven effective in minimizing the number of dengue cases in the past campaigns, he added.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which triggers a severe flu-like illness with no known cure.
The DOH also issued warnings against leptospirosis, especially in areas prone to flooding.
The number of leptospirosis cases reached 336 from January to May 26 this year, up from the 140 cases reported for the same period last year. The number of deaths also increased from 15 in 2011 to 25 in 2012 for the period being compared.
Alonsabe said the increase in dengue and leptospirosis cases was partly due to the increase in the number of monitoring sites. Several of the fatalities due to leptospirosis occurred early this year and were patients infected late last year, he said.
He noted that leptospirosis has been traditionally high in the region because the disease is endemic due to the agricultural nature of the region.
“Many farmers will work on their farms during the planting season so we expect that there will be leptospirosis cases. We continuously advise them to wash their feet after working and to undergo check up if they experience any symptoms of the disease,” Alonsabe said.
Health officials have advised against wading in floodwaters and encouraged the wearing of rubber boots when walking in flooded areas.
Leptospirosis is transmitted to humans through water that has been contaminated with urine of animals like rats, swine and carabaos. Humans can be infected through open wounds or skin lesions or through the eyes.
Its symptoms include fever, chills and intense headache. It could lead to complications like meningitis, renal failure and respiratory distress which may result in the death of the patient.