THE rainy season is here and flooding are expected, thus the Davao City Health Office raised its warning anew, not just on common rainy season diseases like dengue but most of all leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. It starts from animals and infects humans, although there has been no case of human to human infection. Meaning, only the person who got infected by the bacteria from the feces and urine of the infected animal will suffer. But, as many know, leptospirosis kills, and it kills fast.
While rodents are blamed for its spread, leptospirosis can actually affect other animals and can spread the disease. The animals that can be affected aside from rodents are cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, and wild animals.
A person can be infected through contact with the urine and other body fluids except saliva of the infected animal or contact with water, soil, or food contaminated with the urine of infected animals. The bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucus membranes. Thus, the most effective prevention tip is not to wade in floodwaters especially when you have a wound in your feet or legs.
Usual symptoms are high fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rash. A person can show the symptoms from two days after exposure to four weeks. But all these can be mistaken for other diseases and thus may be ignored. There are those infected who do not show any symptoms at all.
The disease comes in two phases. First may include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea. Some recover from this phase after getting appropriate medical intervention. Others may look like they have recovered but will have a relapse. That is when the second, more severe phase, will occur.
It is in the second phase when patients usually succumb as by this time the patient may have kidney or liver failure or meningitis. This is called the Weil's disease.
What all this is saying is that when you have been exposed to floodwaters and you start to feel ill, have yourself properly diagnosed and do not self-diagnose.
But as is often said, prevention is always better than cure. Thus, the next time it floods, don't wade in without proper protective gear, especially a pair of rubber boots. But if the floodwaters go higher than your boots, then just wait for the waters to subside. Anyway, we all know that floodwaters in Davao City do subside after an hour or two.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 25, 2017.
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