Leptospirosis cases surge in Ulysses’ wake

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The National Kidney and Transplant Institute has reported a fresh surge in leptospirosis cases with 18 people sent to emergency rooms overnight Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 64 since the Nov. 12 onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 28) — The National Kidney and Transplant Institute has reported a fresh surge in leptospirosis cases with 18 people sent to emergency rooms overnight Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 64 since the Nov. 12 onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

Two of those 64 patients have tested positive for COVID-19, but one already recovered, NKTI Executive Director Rose Marie Rosete-Liquete told CNN Philippines in an interview on Saturday.

“They are both alarming because they can always end up with pulmonary failure. Pareho sila,” the NKTI chief said as she noted the twin blows from COVID-19 and leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is a disease traced to rat urine that finds its way through waterways and eventually end up contaminating flood waters.

The NKTI chief attributed Friday night’s spike in leptospirosis cases to the tail-end of the disease’s incubation period when symptoms could appear ten days to three weeks after wading in flood waters.

“You wouldn’t know until you have the symptoms. That’s why kung may prophylaxis ka, hopefully hindi ka magka-symptom [if you have prophylaxis, hopefully you won't get symptoms],” she said, referring to the antibiotic that’s prescribed to be taken three to five days after exposure to flood waters.

Ulysses barreled Luzon on Nov. 11, submerging most of the island in waters several feet deep.

Thirty-eight-year-old Retsan Varga was one of those staying at NKTI for the past three days after being diagnosed with leptospirosis.

Galing po ako sa Henares, Rizal. May finding po doon ilipat ako dito sa Kidney (NKTI) dahil bumaba ang platelet ko – 58 na lang,” Varga said, referring to the hospital in his hometown in Rizal province that first gave the diagnosis.

[Translation: I came from Henares, Rizal. They transferred me to Kidney (NKTI) because my platelet count dropped - it is now only 58.]

The NKTI said the serious leptospirosis cases are mostly from areas heavily ravaged by Ulysses: Rizal, Marikina, and Metro Manila.

Almost half of the 64 admitted at NKTI are undergoing dialysis, which means the disease has taken a turn for the worse.

“It’s flu-like symptoms, fever and sometimes flushed ang mata [the eyes are flushed] then they will have some body pains, coughing and then 'pag naapektuhan na ang kidneys [if the kidneys are affected], then that’s a problem,” Liquete said.

There had been 22 deaths so far from January this year, out of 124 leptospirosis cases in total.