In the 2009 Ondoy calamity, 12 regions in the country were affected by massive flooding. “[In] November 2009, the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health reported 2,299 presumptive cases of leptospirosis with 178 deaths in 15 hospitals in Metro Manila over a period of two months. In the Luzon region, 1090 cases and 71 deaths in Regions I, III, IV-A and Cordillera Autonomous Region were recorded. Overall case fatality rate was 7.4 [percent],” as noted by the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID), adding that “[this] was way beyond the yearly endemic threshold of leptospirosis cases in the country.”
There’s nothing like growing morbidity and mortality numbers to give proactive prevention the needed push it deserves. On the end of health authorities, these numbers resulted in a Leptospirosis Task Force, composed of members from PSMID, the Philippine Society of Nephrology, and the Philippine College of Chest Physicians-Council on Critical Care and Pulmonary Vascular Diseases.
But what about us ordinary citizens? Being a responsible member of the community greatly helps in preventing leptospirosis. According to the Leptospirosis FAQ compiled by PSMID, consciously contributing to the lowering of leptospirosis incidence involves:
· Having your pets vaccinated against leptospirosis;
· Avoiding contact with animal urine or body fluids, especially if there are cuts or abrasions of the skin;
· Wearing protective clothing or footwear near soil or water that may be contaminated with animal urine;
· Consuming boiled water, especially during the rainy season;
· Avoiding swimming or wading in muddy ponds and slowly moving streams especially those located near farms or stagnant water; and
· Controlling rats and mice around the home on a regular basis.
By being aware of the disease and doing something to lessen its incidence in your community, you may save many lives! It really puts the saying “an ounce of prevention…” into perspective, doesn’t it?