After 105 new cases of leptospirosis were reported in the Metro Manila area of the Philippines between June 10 and July 3, an outbreak was declared.
A difficult-to-diagnose, zoonotic bacterial disease has been running rampant in the Philippines this year. On Thursday, July 5, Francisco T. Duque III, secretary of the Department of Health of the Philippines declared a leptospirosis outbreak in Metro Manila neighborhoods.
Data from the Philippines Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health indicate that in 2018 there have been 1,030 cases of leptospirosis in the Philippines and 93 deaths as of June 9; this is a 41% increase in reported cases in comparison with the first 6 months of 2017.
In the official announcement, the Philippines Department of Health reported that between January 1 and July 3, there have been a total of 368 leptospirosis cases in Manila Metro. Additionally, there have been 52 leptospirosis-related deaths, in the area. The outbreak was declared after 105 new cases occurred between June 10 and July 3.
Leptospirosis, known in most countries as a rare disease, is endemic to the Philippines. The disease is spread to humans through contact with urine of infected animals or through contact with water or soil contaminated by infected animals.
Severe rains have caused extreme floods in low lying areas in the Manila area and other parts of the country. It is believed that patients may become infected from wading through the flooded areas.
“We can prevent complications of leptospirosis when its flu-like symptoms are recognized early and treated immediately. My advice to those who had to wade in the flood these past few days is to be alert for any symptom and to seek early consultation,” said Duque in an official statement.
The Philippines Department of Health also advised the public to seek immediate medical treatment if symptoms are exhibited. Symptoms include high fever, muscle pain, headache, vomiting, diarrhea and jaundice. If left untreated, the disease can lead to kidney failure, brain damage, internal bleeding, and in severe cases, death.
The Philippines is not the only area suffering from a high number of leptospirosis cases. It has been reported that Puerto Rico experienced a surge in leptospirosis-related deaths following Hurricane Maria. According to CNN, the high number of cases should have called for an outbreak declaration by Puerto Rican health officials.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website, approximately 100 to 150 cases of leptospirosis are reported each year in the United States; about 50% of the cases occur in Puerto Rico.
Contagion® reached out to the CDC for a comment on whether or not a leptospirosis outbreak should have been declared in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, but as of date of publish, the request for a comment has not been returned.
For the most recent case counts associated with the leptospirosis outbreak in the Philippines, be sure to check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.