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. Additionally, if they live in a dengue-prone area and someone shows symptoms of dengue fever, it could most likely be a case of dengue.
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 contaminated water or soil. During the rainy season, when flooding is at its peak, floodwaters become contaminated through contact with urine or contaminated soil.
The symptoms of leptospirosis include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Kidney failure
People who live in areas prone to flooding are most at risk for leptospirosis. Additionally, wading or swimming in floodwaters also increases a person’s risk 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 mosquito bites.
Here are some of the symptoms of dengue:
- Red rashes or spots on the skin
- Pain behind the eyes
- Muscle and joint pain
- More severe symptoms include hemorrhage and organ damage
In some cases, dengue can develop into a more lethal complication called severe dengue. 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 avoid having dengue in the first place since other strains of dengue can possibly lead to worse symptoms.
Why Are These Diseases 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 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.
In order to lower your risk of getting infected with these diseases, 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 infected with leptospirosis and other diseases.
- Be sure to keep your surroundings clean. 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.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in order to lower the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.
Hopefully, these tips should help keep you and your family safe from these diseases.
Learn more about Infectious Diseases here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.