Measles, leptospirosis cases in Philippines rising

By Caroline J. Howard, ANC

Posted at Nov 11 2010 02:26 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2010 02:45 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) is alarmed over the rising number of measles and leptospirosis cases in the country.

Speaking on ANC's "Headstart," Dr. Eric Tayag, head of the DOH-National Epidemiology Center, said they have recorded 2,123 cases of measles in the country as of October 30 with 6 deaths.

He added the health department is stepping up its information and vaccination drive to prevent an outbreak.

"We are going to advocate an entensive campaign with the private sector and the medical society so we can adress the twin problem of measles and leptospirosos. We have to be prepared because this is the month when the measles virus begins to spread and will continue until first quarter of the year," he said.

"We want to prevent more outbreaks of measles now that we are eliminating it and we are going to start in January a supplementary activity in high-risk areas around the country."

The DOH is also monitoring the number of leptospirosis cases across the country.

Tayag said they have recorded 690 cases of leptospirosis, most of them in Metro Manila. A total of 36 deaths have been recorded.

"Leptospirosis is endemic in the country. It is not only associated with contaminated floodwater, it is also an occupational hazard, especially for farmers. You get leptospirosis from being exposed to bodies of water contaminated with urine from infected rats. People should watch out for symptoms of fever, yellowish skin, urine turning tea-colored, then you have to go to the hospital immediately."

Tayag said they are now trying to verify a possible outbreak of leptospirosis in Pangasinan.

"We are in touch with officials in Region 1. They've reported 24 cases and 2 dead. It's alarming, and we have to verify it because they may have an outbreak there," he said.