MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) has begun distributing thousands of doxycycline capsules to prevent the spread of leptospirosis, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said on Wednesday.
Ona said the DOH has distributed doxycycline in the National Capital Region (NCR), Calabarzon and Central Luzon—the regions that have been severely affected by the floods and monsoon rains.
“The public should be wary about leptospirosis, which is waterborne, because it could affect one’s kidneys and require dialysis,” Ona said.
In the NCR, health officials delivered at least 25,000 doxycycline capsules to local government units to be used as prophylaxis or to prevent being infected by leptospirosis.
“These capsules will serve as their protection from leptospirosis as they will be wading in floodwaters during rescue operations,” said Eduardo Janairo, the DOH-NCR regional director.
He said 10,000 doxycycline capsules/tablets were delivered to Taguig, Navotas, Valenzuela, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Manila, Muntinlupa and Parañaque, while 15,000 went to Quezon City.
“We are giving additional stocks just in case they will need more due to the continuous rain and flooding that we are experiencing. Public schools in Quezon City, San Juan and Pateros have already been given doxycycline and assorted medicines during our dengue and leptospirosis awareness campaign,” Janairo said.
“Health personnel in evacuation centers are also providing doxycycline capsules to evacuees as [a form of] protection from leptospirosis,” he added.
Janairo said the regional epidemiology surveillance unit has reported that 133 leptospirosis cases were admitted from Jan. 1 to Aug. 10 this year.
“The figure is 63 percent lower than the 357 cases reported for the same period last year. The ages of those affected ranged from 11 months to 82 years. Majority (81 percent) were male. Most of the cases (22 percent) were from the City of Manila,” Janairo said.
Ten deaths were recorded, he added.
Janairo said DOH-NCR health emergency staff and regional health representatives conducted a rapid health assessment (RHA) in selected evacuation centers in Marikina, Quezon City and Pateros.
An RHA is also being done in selected and accessible evacuation centers in Pasay City by the Kalusugan Pangkalahatan health teams, he said.
Besides the doxycycline capsules being given to affected individuals, doses of vitamin A were also being administered to children in evacuation areas, he said.
“I advise everyone who will wade in floodwaters to wear protective gear in order not to be affected by leptospirosis,” Janairo said.
He said the DOH was coordinating with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Flood Control Information Center and the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Center on assistance to be given to the afflicted.