Leptospirosis outbreak declared in Oro

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Monday, January 2, 2012


CAGAYAN DE ORO -- The Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao declared Monday an outbreak of leptospirosis in Cagayan de Oro City after five persons have died while more than 200 have been infected with the disease.

“We have more cases now compared in 2009 with less than 70 patients infected with leptospirosis while we only have 10 cases in 2009,” DOH Regional Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas said in a television interview Monday.

The outbreak was spurred by flash floods that ravaged 24 barangays in the city last December 17 following torrential rains brought by Tropical Storm Sendong (international codename: Washi). The incident left thousands of residents dead and scores still missing.

Councilor Dante Pajo, chairperson of the City Council’s committee on health and sanitation, said the City Government is alarmed over the increase in the number of persons infected with leptospirosis.

Pajo said 142 of the patients are now confined at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), while 12 are at the J.R. Borja Memorial City Hospital. Some have already been discharged.

He said two of the fatalities were reported at NMMC, while another was “unreported”, who allegedly died in Barangay Balulang.

He said the “unreported” case was identified as leptospirosis based on the signs and symptoms.

Based on an advisory from the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (NCDPC), leptospirosis is caused by leptospira bacteria that enter a person’s body through breaks in skins/wounds, eyes and nose when in contact with flood waters and vegetation, moist soils contaminated with the urine of infected animals, especially rats.

Among the signs and symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, non-specific symptoms of muscle pain and headache, calf muscle pain and reddish eyes in some cases.

In severe cases, some vital organs such as liver, kidney and brain are affected which might be evident by yellowish body discoloration, dark-colored urine and light stools, low urine output and severe headache.

The NCDPC listed the incubation period of the disease at between two to 25 days.

“Leptospirosis is very common nowadays and it is alarming. We have to see to it that those who were soaked in flood waters would take doxycycline,” Pajo said.

Doxycycline is a prophylactic medicine and antibiotic against leptospirosis.

Bernadas said they are hoping that cases of leptospirosis would not increase as the DOH and the City Health Office (CHO) have been distributing doxycycline to affected residents, especially those who are staying in evacuation centers.

The DOH has reportedly started distributing doxycycline as early as December 18.

Bernadas also encouraged those who were affected by the flood but are staying in their homes to visit the health centers for the free medicine.

Pajo, meanwhile, assured there would be no shortage of medicines in the city.

“We are very thankful that the City Government purchased the medicines, while the DOH also gave medicines along with other donors like the Cebu Medical Society,” he said.

He also encouraged the residents especially those who are residing in subdivisions affected by the flood and are not in evacuation centers to go to the health centers or at the CHO for free medicines.

Pajo said a team of doctors will visit different subdivisions in the city, especially those in Macanhan and Barangay Balulang.

“Our campaign is that people should not be careless and complacent with regard to the disease since it a very fatal,” he said.

Related to this, Pajo said they are also monitoring and assisting those who have been affected by dengue and diarrhea, which are also common in evacuation centers. (Michael Andrew W. Yu/Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 03, 2012.

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