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Leptospirosis And The Floods (2nd Update)

October 13, 2009


This has been a common scene this past two weeks, going on three: Filipinos wading in flood waters, muddied waters infested by all sorts of bacteria.

And yes, I’m referring to the bacteria that causes LEPTOSPIROSIS.


Exceprts from the US Centers for Diseas Vontrol CDC):

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira.


In humans it causes a wide range of symptoms, and some infected persons may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or a rash. If the disease is not treated, the patient could develop kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, and respiratory distress. In rare cases death occurs.

Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases.
Leptospirosis is confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood or urine sample.

  • How do people get leptospirosis?

Outbreaks of leptospirosis are usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. Many different kinds of animals carry the bacterium; they may become sick but sometimes have no symptoms. Leptospira organisms have been found in cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals. Humans become infected through contact with water, food, or soil containing urine from these infected animals. This may happen by swallowing contaminated food or water or through skin contact, especially with mucosal surfaces, such as the eyes or nose, or with broken skin. The disease is not known to be spread from person to person.

  • How long is it between the time of exposure and when people become sick?

The time between a person’s exposure to a contaminated source and becoming sick is 2 days to 4 weeks. Illness usually begins abruptly with fever and other symptoms. Leptospirosis may occur in two phases; after the first phase, with fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, or diarrhea, the patient may recover for a time but become ill again. If a second phase occurs, it is more severe; the person may have kidney or liver failure or meningitis. This phase is also called Weil’s disease.

The illness lasts from a few days to 3 weeks or longer. Without treatment, recovery may take several months.

  • Where is leptospirosis found?

Leptospirosis occurs worldwide but is most common in temperate or tropical climates. It is an occupational hazard for many people who work outdoors or with animals, for example, farmers, sewer workers, veterinarians, fish workers, dairy farmers, or military personnel. It is a recreational hazard for campers or those who participate in outdoor sports in contaminated areas and has been associated with swimming, wading, and whitewater rafting in contaminated lakes and rivers.
The incidence is also increasing among urban children.

health alert101



Since this posting the virulent character of leptopirosis has been horribly manifested.

As the Philippine Star reports it:

The death toll from leptospirosis reached 89 as cases of the flood-borne disease in Metro Manila and flooded provinces rose tenfold in the past three days, the Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the number of leptospirosis admissions in public hospitals in Metro Manila alone soared from 140 on Oct. 12 to 1,027 as of Oct. 15.

Duque added that the 89 leptospirosis deaths brought to 8.6 percent the fatality rate from last year’s 7.5 percent.

“Cases of leptospirosis have really shot up these past few days. In fact, the Metro Manila figure even exceeded the 812 nationwide admissions in government hospitals for the whole of last year,” Duque disclosed.

2nd Update:

The DOH has now classified the leptospirosis as a diseas outbreak, one step short of an epidemic.

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