Leptospirosis: The flood-borne Silent killer
Eahrielle Andhrew PlataSince it is the time where the wet season (June-October) occurs in the Philippines because of the strengthening of the South West Monsoon, the country experiences the most amount of rainfall all year round with it being heavy and happens in an even longer stretch of time. In this time, flooding is more likely as well as water-borne diseases that people usually acquire during rainy seasons, and one of them Leptospirosis.
In the past months, various news about cases of leptospirosis were reported. According to an August 2018 report by the Department of Health, almost 2,230 cases were recorded, with at least 100 dead. This number is a 105% increase in number of cases compared to last year’s during the same period. DOH also added that 50% of these cases were from Metro Manila alone.
With that being said, even though this disease is viral now, the knowledge of this disease by Filipinos may be lacking that’s why they tend to neglect it, so what is Leptospirosis exactly?
What is Leptospirosis exactly?
According to World Health Organization, Leptospirosis is a bacterial Infection that affects humans as well as animals. It is a disease where humans became infected through direct contact with the urine of infected animals, mostly of rats, or with a urine-contaminated environment. The bacteria enter the body through cuts or abrasions on the skin, or through the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes. Although, a person-to-person transmission is rare.
With the symptoms on the other hand, the early stages of the disease showcases signs such as high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness of the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, hemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash. In the worst case scenario, death can happen because of the complications that might happen.
Flood of Disaster
In the case of the Philippines, since it is a tropical country, Leptospirosis happens more often because as what the WHO said, it is most widespread to tropical countries and subtropical countries. In connection with this, as a tropical country, constant raining especially during the wet seasons is expected, so flood is also expected. Flood, is considered to be the main factor on why individuals acquire this disease by just simply going into it without proper protection (boots, proper footwear, etc.) without knowing that it can be contaminated by animal urines. Inefficient and poor waste management can also be a factor to it since animals like rats, which are the carriers of the bacteria that causes Leptospirosis, are living on those poorly-managed garbage.
Prevention is really better than cure
Leptospirosis is a fatal disease but unlike illnesses such as cancer, treating it is way easier since antibiotics and some medical treatment from the hospital is all it needs to reduce the symptoms and eventually be removed. But like cancer and all other kinds of diseases, it can be prevented which will not only be better, but also cheaper, and less hassle as well.
So this are some tips and guide to prevent Leptospirosis:
Don’t’ take the risk. Avoid contact with floodwater
If direct contact with floodwater is unavoidable, Wear protective equipments like boots, gloves, and masks. Even safer, just use boats and other water transportations instead of walking through the floodwater
Wash parts of the body exposed to floodwater with anti-bacterial soap and clean water as soon as possible
If there are wounds especially to vulnerable parts such as the feet and legs, make sure to keep it safe from having contact with floodwater
Always take clean drinking water
Maintain cleanliness and proper waste management at home to avoid bacteria carriers such as rats from inhabiting on them.
Even though this has been done, make sure to regularly check if you have the symptoms of the disease and if so, go to the nearest hospital to validate whether if it is Leptospirosis because most of the deaths from this disease are mostly came in surprise for the victim. They don’t know that they have it because of the generality of the symptoms only to discover it is at its worst stage.