CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- The Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao reported that fatalities due to leptospirosis rose to eight in this city and seven in Iligan City.
The DOH declared Monday an outbreak of leptospirosis in Cagayan de Oro after five persons died while more than 200 were infected with the disease.
The outbreak was spurred by flash floods that ravaged villages in the city last December 17 due to Tropical Storm Sendong (international codename: Washi).
The DOH said leptospirosis is acquired not only from absorbing contaminated floodwaters through cuts in the skin but also by swallowing the bacteria directly from water or through food. Although the disease is commonly associated with rat urine, infection can also come from animals like cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, and wild animals.
It added the disease causes a wide range of symptoms that begins with flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, muscle pain, intense headache and may end up in meningitis, liver damage (causing jaundice) and renal failure. Death may also occur.
Dr. David Mendoza, head of the DOH’s Regional Epidemiology, Surveillance and Disaster Response Unit said the increasing number of people infected with leptospirosis could be associated to complacency or indifference of people to take prescribed medicine.
The DOH said many of those affected by the flash floods received Doxycycline, a prophylactic medicine and antibiotic against leptospirosis, but did not take it.
Mendoza said Doxycycline is always available in clinics set up by the DOH and the City Health Office (CHO) at the evacuation centers.
But it seems the people failed to take the medicine because of “inadequacy and insufficient information” on leptospirosis, Mendoza said.
“Many people, especially those living outside the evacuation centers, came only for food and relief goods, but not for medical consultations,” he said.
A nurse at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), who requested not to be named, said they gave antibiotics and other medicines like pain killers to the infected patients for free.
Among the medicines given to the patients are Penicillin G (Pen G), Omeprazole (40mg) for stomach pain, Doxycycline and Benzylpenicillin.
She said among the symptoms they assess before giving the medicines include fever, malaise, headache, chills, muscle and joint pain, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, cough, jaundice, hemoptysis (vomiting/coughing of blood), dyspnea (difficulty in breathing), decrease in urine output, hematuria (blood in urine) and discoloration of skin.
DOH regional director Dr. Jaime Bernadas earlier said they are hoping that cases of leptospirosis will go down with the distribution of medicines to affected residents who are staying inside and outside of the evacuation centers.
Councilor Dante Pajo, chairperson of the City Council’s committee on health and sanitation, has called on the public not to be careless and complacent since leptospirosis is fatal.
He also urged the public to visit their health centers for free medicines. (Sunnex)