Leptospirosis outbreak due to ‘complacency’-A A +A
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
CAGAYAN DE ORO – The increasing number of people infected with leptospirosis could be associated to complacency or indifference of people to take prescribed medicine, a Health official said Tuesday.
The Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao declared Monday an outbreak of leptospirosis in Cagayan de Oro City after five persons died while more than 200 were infected with the disease.
The DOH said confirmatory tests on 128 patients out of the suspected 200 cases proved to be positive.
The outbreak was spurred by flash floods that ravaged villages in the city last December 17 due to Tropical Storm Sendong (international codename: Washi).
The DOH said many of those affected by the flash floods received Doxycycline, a prophylactic medicine and antibiotic against leptospirosis, but did not take it.
Dr. David Mendoza, head of the DOH’s Regional Epidemiology, Surveillance and Disaster Response Unit, said Doxycycline is always available in clinics set up by the DOH and the City Health Office (CHO) at the evacuation centers.
But it seems the people failed to take the medicine because of “inadequacy and insufficient information” on leptospirosis, Mendoza said.
“Many people, especially those living outside the evacuation centers, came only for food and relief goods, but not for medical consultations,” he said.
At the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), 122 children are confined while more than a hundred adults are also hospitalized due to leptospirosis, some of whom are already staying in hallways and in open spaces due to the lack of available rooms.
A nurse at the NMMC, who requested not to be named, said they gave antibiotics and other medicines like pain killers to the infected patients for free.
Among the medicines given to the patients are Penicillin G (Pen G), Omeprazole (40mg) for stomach pain, Doxycycline and Benzylpenicillin.
She said among the symptoms they assess before giving the medicines include fever, malaise, headache, chills, muscle and joint pain, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, cough, jaundice, hemoptysis (vomiting/coughing of blood), dyspnea (difficulty in breathing), decrease in urine output, hematuria (blood in urine) and discoloration of skin.
“The number of patients with leptospirosis will still increase since it will probably take at least five days before the symptoms will be visible,” the nurse said.
One of the patients, Judith Sumalpong, 47, a resident of Igpit in Opol town, Misamis Oriental, said she might have gotten the disease after she drank contaminated water at the height of the flash flood.
“I thought I was drinking clean water,” Sumalpong said.
She said she got the water from a container of mineral water that was floating in flood waters.
Sumalpong said she was later brought to the hospital after experiencing frequent vomiting, difficulty in breathing and lack of appetite.
On Tuesday, DOH assistant secretary Romulo Busuego said at least 208 leptospirosis patients have been recorded both in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities.
But Buseugo said some patients have already been discharged from the hospitals.
DOH regional director Dr. Jaime Bernadas earlier said they are hoping that cases of leptospirosis will go down with the distribution of medicines to affected residents who are staying inside and outside of the evacuation centers.
Councilor Dante Pajo, chairperson of the City Council’s committee on health and sanitation, has called on the public not to be careless and complacent since leptospirosis is fatal.
He also urged the public to visit their health centers or the CHO for free medicines. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 04, 2012.