The death toll from leptospirosis climbed to 93 after four more deaths were reported from Metro Manila hospitals during the weekend, the Department of Health (DoH) said on Saturday.
The number of cases also increased to 1, 336 from 1, 027 recorded last October 15, or an addition of 309 new cases in barely two days.
Dr. Yolly Oliveros, director of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (NCDPC), said the additional cases and deaths were received by the DoH-National Epidemiology Center (NEC) last October 16 from different state-run and private hospitals in the metropolis.
“The rapid increase in the number of casualties is inevitable considering the volume of water that typhoon Ondoy dumped on most parts of Metro Manila last September 26,” Oliveros said in an interview.
“If the NEC projection of (leptospirosis) attack rate of 10 to 25 percent is right, we can expect some 4, 000 people to be admitted for confinement, and more deaths in the coming days or weeks,’’ she stressed.
Earlier, the health department declared an outbreak of the flood-borne disease in barangays Tumana, Malanday, and Concepcion I in Marikina, as the city was one of those severely submerged in floodwater.
Aside from Marikina, the cities of Pasig and Taguig, and Rizal province also suffered severely from the onslaught of Ondoy.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said that the outbreak was declared because Marikina has zero cases in 2008.
Since Friday, the DoH had given away free “doxycycline” antibiotic drugs in Marikina as a prophylactic or means of prevention to exposed individuals.
“Ang ibig sabihin ng prophylaxis, kahit walang sakit bibigyan pa rin natin sila ng antibiotics dahil nasa ‘’high risk’’ category sila. Lahat ng residente na nandon sa high risk areas ay bibigyan ng 200 miligrams of antibiotic once a week,’’ explained Oliveros.
Given the flood magnitude, she said, the DoH will likely spend about R50-million on prophylaxis alone.
“First time tayo (DoH) magbibigay ng prophylaxis on a wide range. We have asked the World Health Organization (WHO) if they did the same, pero wala daw,” she said.
She clarified, however, that giving of prophylaxis is part of the management of leptospirosis.
The health official urged the public to protect themselves against flood-borne diseases by wearing protective clothing such as “boots’’ and washing the exposed parts immediately when wading could not be avoided.
Frequent washing of hands with soap and water, she added are crucial in preventing others diseases.
Leptospirosis is spread through animal urine mixed with floodwater. Humans can easily acquire the disease if they have open wounds.
The DoH said an infected person may manifest symptoms two-weeks after wading in filthy water. Among the more common symptoms are cough, cold, and body malaise. If not diagnosed early enough, it could lead to meningitis, liver damage, or death.