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Public Warned Against Dengue and Leptospirosis

Public Warned Against Dengue and Leptospirosis

Dr. Eric Tayag, former chief of the National Epidemiology Center, shared in an interview that the public needs to be wary of diseases brought about by the rainy season. In particular, he told the public to watch out for dengue fever and leptospirosis.

Should You Worry About Dengue Fever and Leptospirosis?

In the Philippines, certain diseases are most prevalent during the rainy season. These are waterborne diseases, influenza, leptospirosis, and dengue, or WILD diseases. These are also some of the most common childhood diseases.

Dr. Tayag said that these WILD diseases all have symptoms that can be mistaken for the flu. This, coupled with the COVID-19 outbreak, can make it difficult for healthcare providers to identify which disease a patient might have.

He shared that from January to May 2020, over 50,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Central Luzon and Visayas. As we are only entering the rainy season, this number can drastically increase.

Dr. Tayag also emphasized that people need to make sure that their surroundings are always clean and to take precautionary steps against dengue.

Common Childhood Illnesses in the Philippines

What is Leptospirosis?

One of the more common diseases during the rainy season in the Philippines is leptospirosis. It is a disease endemic to the Philippines and is caused by a bacterial infection. This disease affects both humans and animals.

Leptospirosis can be spread through the urine of infected humans and animals such as rats, and it can spread through exposure to contaminated water or soil. During the rainy season, when flooding is at its peak, floodwaters become contaminated through contact with urine or contaminated soil.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney failure
  • Hemorrhage
  • Chills
  • Muscle pains
  • Red eyes
  • Abdominal pain

People who live in areas prone to flooding and wade or swim in floodwaters are at risk for leptospirosis. Recreational water exposure (such as fresh water swimming, kayaking, trail biking) as well as certain occupations (farmers, ranchers, sewer workings, veterenarians and people who work with animals) are also risk factors for leptospirosis.

What is Dengue Fever?

Aside from leptospirosis, dengue fever is probably one of the most well-known diseases during the rainy season in the Philippines. It is a mosquito-borne viral infection that spreads through bites of an infected mosquito.

Symptoms of Dengue:

  • Fever
  • Red rashes or spots on the skin
  • Headache and pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • More severe symptoms include hemorrhage and organ damage

In some cases, dengue can be severe and can present with lethal complications. At the moment, there is no specific form of treatment for dengue. These treatments only help manage the symptoms until the body’s immune system can fight off the infection.

While people with dengue do develop immunity, there are four known strains of dengue. What this means is that even if a person has immunity to one strain of dengue, they can still get infected with the other strains. This is why it is important to remain vigilant in avoiding dengue because being infected more than once is associated with having a more severe and complicated course.

Public Warned Against Dengue and Leptospirosis

Why Are Dengue Fever and Leptospirosis Common During The Rainy Season?

Both dengue fever and leptospirosis are most common during the rainy season. But why does this happen?

In the case of leptospirosis, the bacteria that is responsible for the infection can live for up to 152 days in fresh water. This means that any unchlorinated water that comes in contact with urine or infected soil can easily spread the disease. Flooding is also a common occurrence in the country, especially in Metro Manila. Coupled with the sanitation problems, rat infestation and the large population, this means that leptospirosis can spread easily in communities.

In the case of dengue, the rainy season makes for favorable breeding conditions. The constant rains also cause water to pool and stagnate in certain areas, which are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes. This combination of factors creates conditions that can cause the mosquito population to increase, which increases the risk that people could get bitten and infected with dengue.

Safety Tips to Avoid Dengue Fever and Leptospirosis

In order to lower your risk of getting infected with dengue fever and leptospirosis, here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • If you live in a flood-prone area, avoid wading or walking in floodwaters as much as possible. If it cannot be avoided, be sure to wear boots to prevent being in contact with the water.
  • Children also need to avoid swimming or playing in floodwaters since they can get injured, or infected with leptospirosis and other diseases.
  • Be sure to keep your surroundings clean and free of clutter. Leptospirosis is primarily spread by rats, and by keeping your surroundings clean and free from pests, you can lower the risk of infection.
  • Drain any sources of standing water to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. If you need them to store water, keep the containers covered tightly.
  • If you or a loved one shows signs of leptospirosis or dengue, be sure to consult the doctor immediately. Leptospirosis can be treated successfully, but only with the right medicine. In the case of dengue, early treatment is important to prevent the symptoms from worsening.
  • If you live in an area with lots of mosquitoes, be sure to use mosquito repellents or use a mosquito net at night. Defrogging may also be beneficial.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in order to lower the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.
  • If you have been exposed to flood waters, consult a doctor and ask if you need prophylaxis (medicines to prevent leptospirosis from developing).

Hopefully, these tips should help keep you and your family safe from these diseases.

Key Takeaway

Dengue fever and leptospirosis are among the diseases that are more prevalent during rainy weather. Leptospirosis bacteria is found in the urine of infected people and animals, which may spread through floodwaters. Dengue is caused by bites from infected mosquitos that are able to breed more during the rainy season.

Avoid dengue fever and leptospirosis by avoiding contact with floodwaters whenever possible, and wearing boots when going through floodwaters.

Learn more about Infectious Diseases here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Leptospirosis Guidelines, https://www.pcp.org.ph/images/For%20Posting/Leptospirosis_GUIDELINES_contents.pdf, Accessed June 16 2020

Bacolod City’s dengue cases decrease by 68% | Philippine News Agency, https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1103989, Accessed June 16 2020

Dengue kills 9 in Pangasinan, https://www.rappler.com/nation/263586-dengue-pangasinan-deaths-june-2020, Accessed June 16 2020

Public warned vs dengue, leptospirosis even as COVID-19 persists | ABS-CBN News, https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/06/14/20/public-warned-vs-dengue-leptospirosis-even-as-covid-19-persists, Accessed June 16 2020

DOH it right for the family: Fight leptospirosis, https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/healthandwellness/711375/doh-it-right-for-the-family-fight-leptospirosis/story/, Accessed June 16 2020

DOH-CAR reiterates extra caution to avoid Leptospirosis | DOH CAR, http://caro.doh.gov.ph/doh-car-reiterates-extra-caution-to-avoid-leptospirosis/, Accessed June 16 2020

WHO | Flooding and communicable diseases fact sheet, https://www.who.int/hac/techguidance/ems/flood_cds/en/#:~:text=The%20only%20epidemic%2Dprone%20infection,mud%20contaminated%20with%20rodent%20urine., Accessed June 16 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 08
Medically reviewed by Erika Joanna Villanueva Caperonce, M.D.
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