Cleanliness key to leptospirosis prevention

LEGAZPI CITY -- A health official here on Tuesday said cleanliness is still the best way to avoid leptospirosis infection even as she also warned against self-medication.

"Everything starts with cleanliness, always maintain cleanliness in the house as well as surroundings, proper waste management, personal hygiene is also important in preventing this disease,” Dr. Lulu Ramos-Santiago, Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases coordinator of the Department of Health (DOH) here, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Santiago even advised the public to avoid wading in floodwaters or potentially contaminated water, the common way to contract the bacteria causing leptospirosis.

Another way to be infected is through ingestion of contaminated food.

The regional health coordinator also told the public to immediately go to the nearest health facility at the first sign of one of the disease’s symptoms, which is fever.

"We don't recommend self-medication even during fever, consult your nearest health facility to prevent and diagnose the cause of the fever, leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that needs prescription of antibiotic, so self-medication is a big no," the doctor said.

Early consultation is the best way to diagnose if infected with leptospirosis, she added.

DOH Bicol posted and distributed ICE and Frequently Ask Question materials to let the public know how to prevent not just leptospirosis but other bacterial infectious diseases such as: wash hands with clean water and soap, use handkerchief when coughing or sneezing, maintain strong immune system, daily exercise, take a bath every day, proper use of toilets, and maintain cleanliness in surroundings.

A total of 65 leptospirosis cases, were recorded in Bicol from January to July 14 this year, compared to the 45 cases during the same period last year.

Of the six provinces in the region, Santiago said that Camarines Sur has the most number of cases with 46; followed by Albay with 11 cases; Sorsogon, seven cases; Camarines Norte and Masbate with one case each.

Santiago said so far, there are no reported leptospirosis cases in Catanduanes.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection commonly acquired through the urine of rodents, direct contact with infected animals, or superficial cuts and open wounds which are exposed to a contaminated environment such as flood water.

Leptospirosis is characterized by fever, muscle pain, headache, calf pain and in some cases, reddish eyes. It could result in renal failure and eventually, death, if treatment is not immediately administered. (PNA)