Avoid getting leptospirosis, let PH Red Cross tell you how

Published July 22, 2021, 8:10 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Philippine Red Cross (PRC) warns the public vs leptospirosis this typhoon season. (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

As typhoon “Fabian” continues to leave many areas flooded, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Thursday, July 22, warned the public of the risk of leptospirosis.

“Hygiene and sanitation could not be overemphasized in the face of this disaster,” PRC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Senator Richard Gordon.

“This is why we are taking the next steps to secure the people from leptospirosis,” he added.

What is leptospirosis?

PRC explained that leptospirosis is a “bacterial infection transmitted by rodents and other vermin, most often rats.”

It added that animal waste – such as urine and feces – may “contain leptospira spirochetes bacteria which contaminate the soil, water, and vegetation.”

How to reduce the risk of leptospirosis?

PRC explained that part of staying safe is knowing the symptoms of leptospirosis.

Among the non-specific symptoms or signs of a person having leptospirosis, PRC said, can be fever, muscle pain, and headache. “In some cases, calf-muscle pain and reddish eyes are the symptoms,” it added.

PRC added that severe cases of leptospirosis can also result in liver or kidney failure, with the brain being affected.

Other “noticeable signs” of leptospirosis include yellowish body discoloration, dark-colored urine and light stools, low urine output, and severe headache.

PRC said that its staff and volunteers are reaching out to health institutions, communities, health workers, and local individuals to “check if any of these signs and symptoms are present among households.”

Preventive measures vs leptospirosis

As many areas are prone to flooding especially this typhoon season, PRC reminded the public of the preventive measures against leptospirosis:

• People are advised to avoid swimming or wading in potentially contaminated water or flood water

• If available, people are strongly encouraged to use boots and gloves, or any proper protection available when exposed to flood

• At home or in other residential areas, people are urged to drain potentially contaminated water

• People must undertake initiatives to control rodents in the household by using traps or poison

• Homeowners must also maintain cleanliness in their houses

As the country’s foremost humanitarian organization, PRC is noted for its excellence in providing blood as well as safety, health, welfare, disaster management, and other related services.