Swimming in floods? Watch out for leptospirosis

Posted at Aug 22 2013 12:15 PM | Updated as of Aug 22 2013 08:15 PM

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MANILA - Warning: swimming in dirty floodwater might bring you a nasty leptospirosis infection.

The Department of Health is now on alert for a possible leptospirosis outbreak after the recent floods brought on by monsoon rains and enhanced by tropical storm "Maring."

Speaking to ANC, Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag said health officials are seeing lots of cases of fever and respiratory illnesses in the crowded evacuation centers.

"Fever is on top of the illnesses. We are also expecting a rise in respiratory tract infections like cough and colds. But we are really gearing up for leptospirois outbreaks because of the flooding. Usually after wading in floods of contaminated water, people get sick 7-10 days later," he said.

Leptospirosis infections can come from water contaminated by animal urine. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, body aches, jaundice, vomiting, and difficulty in urination.

Tayag said the DOH has distributed over a million doxycycline capsule to areas hit by massive flooding.

He warned that swimming in the floods could raise the risk of leptospirosis infection.

"It's good if you have pants when you wade in the floods because these can act as barriers but if you don't and you have small wounds including athlete's foot, these can be access points for the bacteria," he said.

He added: "Make sure children do not swim in dirty, polluted water. We know it's fun to swim but there is that danger of getting diseases including leptospirosis."

ANC, August 22, 2013