DOH declares leptospirosis outbreak in parts of Metro Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 5) — A leptospirosis outbreak has hit parts of Metro Manila, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said on CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday.

There have been a total of 368 cases and 52 deaths in Metro Manila from January 1 to July 3.

In the past month, reported cases shot 38 percent higher than the average in previous years.

The affected barangays are:

Concepcion, Malabon

Addition Hills, Mandaluyong

North Bay Boulevard, Navotas

Pinagbuhatan, Pasig

BF Homes, Parañaque

San Dionisio, Parañaque

Bagong Silangan, Quezon City

Batasan Hills, Quezon City

Commonwealth, Quezon City

Novaliches Proper, Quezon City

Payatas, Quezon City

Pinyahan, Quezon City

Vasra, Quezon City

Lower Bicutan, Taguig

Maharlika Village, Taguig

Signal Village, Taguig

Western Bicutan, Taguig

From June 10 to July 3, there were three recorded cases in each of the barangays in Malaban, Mandaluyong, Navotas, and Parañaque. The affected barangay in Pasig has four cases.

Taguig has a total of 16 cases, with five coming from Lower Bicutan.

Quezon City has the most number, totaling at 40 cases. Nine are from Batasan Hills, while seven from Commonwealth.

However, Duque clarified this did not mean the disease was contracted in these barangays.

"The flooding might have been in a faraway city or barangay," he clarified. "You're talking about wide areas of flooding."

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria found in the urine of animals such as rats. Incidents of the disease often spikes during the rainy season when people often have to wade through dirty floodwater.

Duque urged local governments to take steps to control the proliferation of rats in their areas,  improve flood control, drain potentially contaminated waters, and enforce proper garbage collection.

He said health offices must conduct a massive information campaign and report potential sources of infection to their respective epidemiology and surveillance units.

READ: Leptospirosis cases shoot up nationwide

CNN Philippines' "MedTalk HealthTalk" host Dr. Freddie Gomez clarified that a person could still be infected if they come in contact with water, soil, or food contaminated with the urine of other infected animals, such as stray cats and dogs.

Symptoms of leptospirosis are high fever, headache, chills, vomiting, abdominal pain, and red eyes. However, sometimes the symptoms do not manifest at all or go away quickly.

As a precaution, the Health Secretary urged the public to see a doctor after they wade into floodwaters even if they don't have an open wound where the bacteria can enter. Gomez said the bacteria can also enter through the eyes, nose, and mouth.

DOH is giving medicine and other medical equipment to government hospitals to ensure they are prepared to handle the spike in leptospirosis cases.