MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday declared an outbreak of leptospirosis in 18 barangays in Metro Manila.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by contact with flood water, mud, or food contaminated with the urine of rats, dogs, pigs, cattle, or goats.
The DOH, in a statement, said it has recorded 368 leptospirosis cases, with 52 deaths, between January 1 and July 3 this year.
This is 38 percent higher than the average number of cases reported over the last 5 years, it said.
Villages with a leptospirosis outbreak are the following:
Northbay Boulevard South
Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, headache, muscle pain, eye redness, tea-colored urine, cough, diarrhea, and vomiting.
If left untreated, leptospirosis may cause kidney failure, brain damage, massive internal bleeding, and death, DOH said.
Health Secretary Franciso Duque advised the public to avoid flood waters as much as possible and go to the nearest hospital should they show any symptoms.
"Ako po ay nag-aapela na 'wag kayong lumusong sa baha. Kung 'di naman maiwasan, pumunta kayo sa mga pagamutan na malapit sa inyo. Madali po ang gamutan at ang mga hospital natin ay handa namang tumanggap at pangasiwaan ang bawat kaso ng lepto," Duque told DZMM radio.
(I appeal to the public not to brave flood waters. If it cannot be avoided, go to your nearest hospital. Leptospirosis is easy to cure and our hospitals are ready to accept and handle every case of leptospirosis.)
Meanwhile, Dr. Ferchito Avelino, head of DOH's Epidemiology Bureau, advised the public to take immediate action if there's exposure to something believed to be contaminated.
"I would advise na maging praning po tayo," he said over "Bandila sa DZMM."
What would seem like a normal flu, Avelino said, could already be symptoms of leptospirosis.
If anyone feels unwell after being exposed to floodwater, seek medical attention right away, he added.
Though children are more or less likely to be infected with leptospirosis, Avelino still urged parents to take preventive measures.
"Maaring 'yung bata ay malakas ang resistensiya or maybe at this time, hindi pa 'yung area na nag-wave ay walang infected na urine, so maaaring nasuwertehan lang," he said. - with report from Raya Capulong, ABS-CBN News