Leptospirosis cases spike in Ilocos Sur
LAOAG CITY — Health officials in Ilocos Sur province have raised the alarm amid the rising cases of leptospirosis in areas hit by recent flooding.
The warning was issued by the provincial office of the Department of Health following the heavy rains dumped by Typhoon “Goring” (international name: Saola), which enhanced the “habagat” or southwest monsoon and triggered widespread flooding in the province this week.
Among the worst hit areas were the towns of Bantay, Cabugao, Magsingal, Narvacan, San Ildefonso, San Vicente, Santa, Santa Maria, Santo Domingo, Sigay and Sinait and the capital city of Vigan.
Data from the DOH on Wednesday showed that at least 52 people had been tagged as “suspected and probable cases” of leptospirosis in the province.
Most of the cases in Ilocos Sur were traced to heavily flooded areas, including Vigan where at least 27 people caught the water-borne disease that also resulted in the deaths of two residents since the onslaught of Typhoon “Egay” (Doksuri) in July.
In flood-prone Caoayan town, at least 17 residents were reported to have been infected with the disease, with one death.
Two more cases were reported in Bantay and Santa Cruz towns, while Cabugao, Gregorio del Pilar, Santa Catalina and Tagudin towns had a case each.
As of Thursday, seven people had already died of the disease in the province, the DOH said, as it cautioned residents against wading through floodwaters.
According to the DOH, leptospirosis is usually transmitted to humans from water contaminated by animal urine, particularly from rats, and comes in contact with lesions in the skin or eyes.
Among the symptoms of the disease are fever, chills and severe headaches, which usually appear four to 14 days following exposure to contaminated floodwaters or mud.
In Ilocos Norte province, some villages in the towns of Bacarra, Solsona, Paoay and the cities of Laoag and Batac remained flooded, prompting the provincial government to suspend classes on Thursday.
Due to the heavy rainfall, the levels of the Quiaoit, Padsan and Gasgas rivers in the province continued to rise and were being closely monitored by authorities, as these could already overflow and lead to widespread flooding.
Disaster response teams and village officials in Solsona and Laoag had to put sandbags on the embankments of the Gasgas and Padsan rivers to prevent the water from spilling. A portion of the embankment was destroyed when Egay battered the province.
The city government of Laoag said around 410 families, or 133 people, who live near the rivers with eroded dikes in flood-prone villages were evacuated on Wednesday.
The Department of Agriculture (DA), in its latest bulletin, said the recent weather disturbances affected the livelihood of more than 8,000 farmers in farming areas hit by heavy rains and floods.
The DA pegged crop losses at P375 million as of Thursday afternoon, up from P189.1 million initially reported due to the southwest monsoon enhanced by Goring and Severe Tropical Storm “Hanna” (Haikui).
The volume of production loss was pegged at 15,856 metric tons spanning 16,145 hectares of agricultural areas. Affected commodities include rice, corn and high-value crops in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) and Western Visayas, the agency said.
In Cagayan province, damage to livestock was pegged at P1.43 million, initial reports from the provincial veterinary office on Thursday showed.