Health News: DOH advises the public to be vigilant of leptospirosis
The Department of Health (DOH) said that they have recorded a total of 981 cases of leptospirosis nationwide from January 1 to August 3 this year, which is almost 3 times less during the same period last year. According to a report from Rappler, there were 2,618 cases for the first 7 months of 2018 alone.
However, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that cases are still expected to rise in the coming days as the rainy season continues for the next several months.
In his press briefing at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City, August 20, Duque reportedly urged local government units (LGUs) to make sure garbage is properly collected to prevent the spread of bacteria.
“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,” he said.
Duque also said that the national government should address the flooding problem by ensuring flood waters are drained.
Heavy and continuous downpour of rain during the rainy season causes floods. Flood waters put the public at greater risk of contracting the disease as it can be contaminated when it mixes with the waste products of infected animals such as rats and other vermin.
The disease is transmitted to humans when the bacteria enters the system through open wounds in the skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, and mouth that come into contact with contaminated water.
Symptoms include muscle pain, fever, reddish eyes, and headaches. In severe cases, those infected can observe yellowish body discoloration, dark-colored urine, and light stools. The disease can cause kidney or liver failure, which then results in death.
The DOH reported that, as of writing, 113 have died due to bacterial infection this year.
While rats are typically recognized as the primary source of infection, all wild and domestic mammals can be carriers of the bacteria too including cows, horses, goats, carabaos, pigs, and even dogs. This puts those living in close contact with these animals at high-risk along with those living in flood-prone and disaster stricken areas.
The public is advised to avoid wading in floods during the rainy season. But for some it’s unavoidable. The disease is considered an occupational hazard for those who have to handle animals or wade in potentially contaminated water as part of their jobs such as farm and agricultural workers, sewer workers, pet groomers, veterinarians, meat handlers, military and rescue personnel, among others. It’s recommended that those working these jobs wear protective clothing such as boots, gloves, and masks for extra precaution. It also helps to shower immediately after coming into contact with flood water.
From commuters braving the rainy day floods of the metro to rice field workers tending to their crops in the mud, no one is one-hundred percent safe from leptospirosis. So we at Maria Health also advise getting protected with a health plan that covers the bacterial infection.
Our website houses a comprehensive list of plans from the country’s top health maintenance providers (HMO) offering different types of medical care. For leptospirosis, we recommend the following plans:
PhilCare Health Vantage
With the Health Vantage voucher, the beneficiary can have 1-year of emergency and hospitalization coverage including emergency room fees, doctor's professional fees, and medicine. Benefit limit starts at ₱40,000 for just ₱3,750 for adult plans.
My Maxicare Lite
The MyMaxicare Lite Blue plan provides the beneficiary with up to ₱25,000 confinement coverage for leptospirosis in over a thousand Maxicare-accredited hospitals for only ₱1,999. For₱500 more, the MyMaxicare Lite Yellow plan gives the same coverage plus access to top hospitals in Metro Manila.
PhilCare ER Vantage
The ER Vantage voucher gives the beneficiary one-time availment emergency and hospitalization coverage for acute cases of bacterial and viral infections and accidents. Benefit limit starts at₱40,000 for only ₱1,050 for adult plans.
Get protected from viral and bacterial illnesses.