ILOILO – While dengue cases are rising, the public is being alerted, too, about another illness this rainy season – leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause severe complications. Use protective gear most especially when wading in possibly contaminated water, according to the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

One gets infected through direct contact with the urine of infected animals or with urine-contaminated environment. The leptospira bacteria enter the body through cuts or abrasions on the skin, or through the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes.

“Parents should not allow their children to play in floodwater,” said Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares Quiñon, provincial health officer.

The PHO has so far recorded 10 leptospirosis cases, with one death, since Jan. 1 this year. This is 82 percent lower than the 55 cases recorded last year from Jan. 1 to June 15.

Those showing the following symptoms, said Quiñon, should immediately see a doctor: 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.

The 10 cases this year were from the municipalities of Oton (two, with one death), Cabatuan (two) and one each in Dueñas, San Enrique, Miag-ao, Barotac Nuevo, San Miguel, and San Joaquin.

Of particular concern to the PHO are outdoor and agricultural workers (rice-paddy and sugarcane plantation workers, for example) that are exposed to potentially contaminated water.

“Tag-ulolan na. Naga-umpisa na sa pagpananum sa talamnan. Kinahanglan nga protektahan sang mga farmers ang ila kaugalingon,” said Quiñon.

Use boots, she suggested.

Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.

“Kon ikaw farmer or may gutang ka sa tiil or pilas-pilas kag nagtanum ka kay tig-talanum, bisan indi ka sigurado may leptospirosis bacteria sa imo nga talamnan, magkari sa aton mga rural health units para mahatagan sang prophylaxis ukon prevention nga antibiotic,” said Quiñon.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) 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.

DOH stressed the importance of early recognition and treatment within two days of the illness to prevent complications./PN


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