Avoid swimming or wading in potentially contaminated floodwater, according to the Department of Health. One could get infected with leptospirosis. This area near the Iloilo Terminal Market is prone to flooding due to clogged drainage. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – This year from Jan. 1 to July 28, the Provincial Health Office (PHO) recorded 79 suspected cases of leptospirosis in Iloilo province.

These were 295 percent higher than the 20 cases reported in the same period last year, according to Dr. Ma. Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon of the PHO.

The PHO also recorded eight deaths due to leptospirosis this year, way higher than the lone death reported within the Jan. 1 to July 28 period in 2017.

“We are alarmed by the number of deaths,” said Quiñon.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease. One becomes infected through direct contact with the urine of infected animals or with a urine-contaminated environment.

The bacteria enter the body through cuts or abrasions on the skin, or through the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes.

The following municipalities registered the most number of cases:

* Oton – nine cases with three deaths

* Pototan – nine cases

* Cabatuan – seven cases with one death

* Maasin – six cases

* Lambunao – six cases

The four other deaths were from the municipalities of Alimodian, Dumangas, Santa Barbara, and Concepcion.

According to Quiñon, the risk of fatality in leptospirosis was higher than dengue’s.

The rise in leptospirosis cases was likely due to frequent rains that in turn triggered floods, she added.

“Many people wade in floodwaters,” said Quiñon.

In the early stages of the disease, symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness of the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, hemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash.

Quiñon said the PHO distributed prophylaxis to rural health units to address leptospirosis cases.

But the best prevention measure is to refrain from wading in floodwaters, she stressed.

The Department of Health listed the following leptospirosis prevention and control measures:

* Avoid swimming or wading in potentially contaminated water or floodwater.

* Use of proper protection like boots and gloves when work requires exposure to contaminated water.

* Drain potentially contaminated water when possible.

* Control rats in the household by using rat traps or rat poison, maintaining cleanliness in the house./PN

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