DOH links ‘lepto’ cases to dirty streets
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday urged Metro Manila mayors to step up efforts to efficiently collect garbage in their respective areas to prevent a further increase in the number of leptospirosis cases in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Apart from flooding due to heavy rains experienced almost every day in the metropolis since the start of the wet season, Duque said that another factor behind the growing number of patients hit by the waterborne disease was “poor garbage collection.”
“We can help control rodent infestation if there is an adequate and efficient garbage collection system which is a mandate of the local governments. That is why we appeal [to mayors] to ensure that garbage is collected round the clock, if not with sufficient regularity, so that no garbage is left on the streets,” he added.
According to data from the Department of Health (DOH), 234 leptospirosis cases have been reported in Metro Manila since January, up from 146 cases during the same period last year. As of June 16, a total of 1,040 cases have been reported nationwide, resulting in 99 deaths. Of the fatalities, 38 were from NCR.
Most affected regions
Overall, Western Visayas recorded the highest number of cases followed by Caraga, Davao and the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Metro Manila was in fifth place with Quezon City posting 87 cases, the highest among the region’s 16 cities and lone municipality. Next was Manila (25), Taguig (20), Parañaque (18) and Caloocan (18).
Notably, there were only a few residents in perennially flooded cities like Malabon, Navotas and Marikina who came down with leptospirosis. Duque surmised that people in these areas were “better prepared” since they experienced flooding more often.
Still, he urged everyone to be extra careful, especially during the rainy season, and avoid wading into floodwaters as much as possible.
This is because the Leptospira spirochetes bacteria which comes from the urine and feces of animals like rats can get into one’s body through open wounds and skin lesions, or through the mouth, nose and eyes.
Symptoms of disease
Among the symptoms of leptospirosis are high fever, muscle pain, eye redness, chills, severe headache, vomiting, diarrhea or yellowish skin. Left untreated, it may lead to kidney failure, brain damage, massive internal bleeding or death.
Duque also announced the allocation of P5 million for the National Kidney Transplant Institute in Quezon City for the treatment of leptospirosis patients. As of last week, it had 30 patients.
Duque said the DOH was also prepositioning medicines to combat leptospirosis in regions with a high number of cases. Currently, the department was working with city health officials on the “active surveillance” of residents who show symptoms of the disease.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.