DOH urges public to be on-guard against leptospirosis

Published August 20, 2019, 4:36 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Analou De Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday urged local government units (LGUs) to ensure that garbage collection was properly implemented in their jurisdictions to prevent the spread of bacteria that causes leptospirosis.

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We are calling on local governments to make sure that garbage is regularly and efficiently collected and not be left in the open for dogs, cats, to scour them or rats to urinate there. Once this happens and there is flooding, as we all know, that is the number one cause of leptospirosis: contaminated flood water,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a press briefing at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City.

Duque said that the national government should also address the problem on flooding, as it was another way to combat the threat of leptospirosis.

“For the national government, ensure that flood waters are drained, especially if there is accumulation of stagnant water. This can really raise the risk of contracting leptospirosis, so this has to be addressed environmentally,” the health chief said.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by many animals, such as rodents and other vermin. Waste products, such as urine and feces of an infected animal, especially rats, contaminate the soil and water, particularly during floods.

The human organs that are primarily affected by leptospirosis are the kidneys, lungs, and liver, said Dr. Romina Danguilan, NKTI deputy executive director for education, training, and research services.

The health chief reported that there have been 916 leptospirosis cases recorded nationwide from January 1 to July 27. The figure was lower compared to the same period last year which was 2,618.

The National Capital Region recorded the highest number of leptospirosis cases with 307; followed by Western Visayas with 112, Bicol region with 92, and Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon with both 75 cases.

“Compared to last year during the same reporting period, this is lower by 166 percent. Hopefully, we won’t see a spike in cases of leptospirosis like last year,” said Duque.

Meanwhile, Duque said that they still expect the cases of leptospirosis to rise in the coming days due to the rainy season.

“The rainy season will still be here for several months. Therefore, we expect more rains and flood waters,” he said.

Donate blood at NKTI

Meanwhile, the NKTI encouraged the public to donate blood as some of their leptospirosis patients need blood.

“A lot of our patients don’t have many relatives. So, we really have a call out to all our blood donors to please come to NKTI. We accept any blood type. Just come to our blood bank and say that you are donating… We need your help. It will save lives,” said Dr. Danguilan.

Danguilan noted that the NKTI was not currently experiencing a shortage in blood supply.

“But we expect more leptospirosis patients in the coming weeks and our blood supply have already been depleted. So, we need to improve our blood supply,” she said.

The NKTI has had 100 leptospirosis patients since January 1. Twenty-eight patients are currently admitted in the medical institution.