Leptospirosis is no longer a seasonal health problem. The numbers indicate infection is not necessarily due to rains and flooding alone. From January 1 to August 5, a total of 910 cases were reported, nearly double the number recorded in the same period last year.

The Epidemiological Bureau, surveillance arm of the Department of Health, noted the increase was 71.1 percent, from just 532 in the previous year.

In the first five months of 2017, suspected leptospirosis cases was pegged at 93.5 percent and this only slightly improved to 91.1 percent for the period January to June.

The rainy season officially started in the last week of May. In previous years, cases would peak during the rainy months of July up to October.

The bacterial disease affects both humans and animals, according to the World Health Organization.

Humans may be infected through cuts and abrasion on the skin where the pathogen can enter, or through the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes. However, person-to-person transmission is rare.

It presents with fever, non-specific symptoms of muscle pain, headache, calf muscle pain, and reddish eyes, while severe cases result to liver, kidney and brain involvement.

Males made up majority of the cases, at 86.9 percent, while most of the patients belonged to the 2- to 24 age group, the EB report said.

Ninety six deaths were recorded, the highest of which were in the 50-54 age group. Most of those affected were 30 years old.

In terms of geographic distribution, 18.9 percent of the cases came from the National Capital Region (NCR), followed by Region XI with 12.3 percent, while Region VI followed with 10.8 percent, then Region III with 8.8 percent, and finally Region VIII with 7.9 percent.

Leptospirosis treatment includes antibiotics prescribed by a physician and early recognition and treatment within two days of illness to prevent complications.

The DOH warns that leptospirosis is deadly and is often reported after natural calamities such as flooding.

Clogged drainages, improper waste disposal, deforestation, and even rapid urbanization are among the factors that have led to the rise in leptospirosis prevalence. Common carriers of the disease are urban rats and field rats in rural areas.

Wading through floodwaters is strictly discouraged during tropical depressions as waters are usually infested with rodent urine. MIMS

Read more:
PH Advisory: Beware of leptospirosis
PH: Leptospirosis cases surge 69.2% in Q1 2017
PH: Latest leptospirosis cases up by 91 percent