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Leptospirosis deaths in Luzon now 19

/ 12:21 AM September 01, 2012

DAGUPAN CITY—The number of people dying from leptospirosis in this Pangasinan city and Central Luzon this year has risen to 19, with six of nine deaths in Dagupan recorded in August.

Dr. Michael Canto, Region I Medical Center (RIMC) spokesperson, said 36 people were confined at the hospital in August while three of the nine Pangasinan fatalities came from San Fabian and Binmaley towns.

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Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by exposure to water contaminated by the urine of animals, especially rats.

“We see a clustering of the cases in Poblacion Oeste in Dagupan where two died and several others were confined due to the disease. The two fatalities from Poblacion Oeste, while not neighbors, used to pass through a flooded pathway,” Canto said.

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The other cases were recorded in the Dagupan villages of Mayombo, Malued, Sabangan and Pantal Norte, he said.

From Aug. 14 to 19, three leptospirosis deaths were recorded here. In July, one of the three persons afflicted with leptospirosis also died.

Dr. Leonard Carbonell, city health officer, said leptospirosis cases began to come out on the second week of August following continuous flooding in at least 18 of 31 villages here due to rains dumped by the southwest monsoon and Typhoon “Helen.”

“We are now on fever watch, looking for residents with fever and encouraging them to see a doctor immediately. But we are doing mass prevention [by distributing the antibiotic] doxycycline in areas that were flooded,” he said.

“Most of the victims worked as fish pond caretakers, construction workers and tricycle drivers, people exposed to floodwaters,” he said.

In Central Luzon, leptospirosis cases rose to 153 from July to Aug. 28, from only 102 between January and June, Department of Health records showed.

Nine people have died from the disease in the last eight months, with Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga reporting two deaths each, according to the weekly update of the regional DOH.

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The four deaths last week were recorded in San Miguel town and Meycauayan City in Bulacan, Abucay town in Bataan and in the City of San Fernando in Pampanga.

At least 47 people caught the disease in floods spawned by southwest monsoon rains from Aug. 6 to 8. Nine of the patients were from Bataan, 31 in Bulacan, three in Pampanga and four in Tarlac.

The 255 cases from January to August doubled the 125 cases for the same period last year, the DOH said.

Nueva Ecija accounted for 142 cases, and the DOH said the province has become “endemic for leptospirosis.” “Most of the cases are occupationally exposed farmers and the peak of cases usually occurs during the rice planting and/or harvesting season,” it said.

In Laguna, a teacher from Siniloan High School, Rico Mejia, 34, has contracted leptospirosis after dipping into floodwaters while helping construct a bamboo bridge.

RIMC records also showed that there were 213 dengue patients and two fatalities from the mosquito-borne disease in August.

The Pangasinan health office also reported that typhoid fever has killed three people and afflicted at least 672 residents in 45 of 48 towns and cities in the last eight months, making it one of the leading diseases to hit the province this year.

Dr. Anna Ma. Teresa de Guzman, provincial health officer, said the number of typhoid fever cases from January to August this year was almost three times more than the 238 cases recorded in the same period last year.

The three fatalities came from the towns of Bayambang and Calasiao and Dagupan City. Only one death was reported last year.

Gov. Amado Espino Jr. has directed sanitary inspectors to continue their house-to-house campaign to teach residents proper hygiene in the affected villages.

Typhoid fever is a bacterial disease caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella typhi.

De Guzman said that based on her office’s findings, the sudden rise in typhoid cases was caused by contaminated water. “In many areas, the water pump where they draw their drinking water is very near their toilets,” she said.

De Guzman has placed 15 towns and cities under a watch list. These include San Carlos City, which had the most number of typhoid cases at 125, Calasiao, Malasiqui, Bayambang, Alaminos City, Urbiztondo, Sta. Barbara, Binmaley, Basista, Mangaldan, Sual, Mangatarem, Rosales, Aguilar and Lingayen.

Gabriel Cardinoza and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; with a report from Romy Ponte, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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TAGS: disease, Health, leptospirosis, Luzon
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