DOH warns of deadly diseases in floodwatersBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Concerned about deadly diseases in floodwaters, the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday advised the public to take personal preventive measures.
Having a pair of boots is a must these days, especially when just a little bit of rain could result in massive flooding, Health Secretary Enrique Ona told reporters on Wednesday.
He also said one must take the antibiotic doxycycline following a long exposure to floodwaters, which could carry the bacteria causing the deadly leptospirosis.
But he stressed that this drug must be taken with the consent and supervision of a physician.
Ona also reminded those who had waded in floodwaters to immediately and thoroughly wash the exposed parts of their bodies, especially wounds, with clean water.
“Be prepared … buy a pair of boots, especially if you are located in a place where you have to wade in floodwaters to get home,” Ona said.
“What we can do now are all preventive measures, but I am really looking forward to the time that floods can be effectively controlled,” he added.
The DOH is expecting a rise in leptospirosis cases following the massive flooding that occurred in Metro Manila a few days ago and elsewhere in the country due to heavy monsoon rains.
On the other hand, Ona also stressed that the DOH was not yet ready to endorse the local plant, “tawa-tawa” (Euphorbia hirta L.) as cure for dengue, another waterborne disease that usually peaked during the rainy season.
“We are not promoting it yet, but at the same time, we are not prohibiting it,” Ona said. “We have no proof yet that it is really effective and at the same time, safe. It needs further studies.”
Preliminary studies have shown that the tawa-tawa plant may contain a substance that could help prevent dehydration among dengue patients.
Earlier, the DOH said it had already asked the Department of Science and Technology to look into the plant’s properties that may help in the treatment of the mosquito-borne disease, which had already affected more than 30,000 people since January.