Issue of July 8, 2018
Mt. Province

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Department of Health raises red flag vs leptospirosis
by Jane B. Cadalig

The Department of Health-Cordillera has advised the public to exercise caution against leptospirosis, saying the region is not spared from the threats of the disease that has claimed several lives in some parts of Metro Manila.

DOH-Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit Nurse V Geeny Anne Austria said extra caution must be observed because the number of cases in the region is rising.

The DOH recorded 28 leptospirosis cases with one death in the region since January. The 30-year old male who died was from Itogon, Benguet.

The cases this year represented a 40 percent increase from the 20 cases recorded in the same period last year. Of the 28 cases, seven were recorded in Benguet, five in Kalinga, three each in Apayao and Ifugao, one each in Baguio and Mountain Province, and eight cases were from provinces outside the Cordillera.

The youngest affected is 12 years old and the eldest is 58 years old. Based on the DOH data, males were mostly affected.

Austria said many of those affected are laborers, such as construction workers and miners, that is why the DOH asked the Department of Labor and Employment to heighten the implementation of occupational health and safety standards among laborers.

She said while leptospirosis is mainly caused by the urine of rats, it may also be caused by the urine of other animals infected by the leptospira bacteria like dogs and cows.

Austria added that leptospirosis can infect a person when contaminated water gets in contact with the skin and not necessarily by wading in flood waters. The bacteria enter the bloodstream through a wound or any abrasion in the skin, usually in the feet and hands and in rare cases, through a cut in the gums when one drinks a contaminated liquid.

To avoid contacting the disease, the DOH advised the public to avoid swimming or wading in flood waters or in potentially contaminated water.

Those whose work requires exposure to potentially contaminated water were advised to use personal protective gears like boots and gloves.

Families were also advised to drain potentially contaminated water and control rats in the households.

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