DAGUPAN CITY, Sept 13 (PIA) — The seven deaths caused by leptospirosis in this city last month could have been prevented had the victims sought medical help during the early stage of the disease.
“The victims sought hospitalization only when they were already unable to urinate, unable to stand and when they were already having difficulty breathing,” said City Health Officer Leonard Carbonell, noting that the victims died within 34 hours after admission.
Early signs of leptospirosis include flu-like symptoms such as fever, head and body ache, and malaise, he said during the Pantongtongan Tayo radio program of the Philippine Information Agency over DZMQ Radyo ng Bayan on Tuesday.
These symptoms can appear as early as two days, or as late as 30 days, after contracting the leptospira bacteria by wading thru flood waters, he added.
The victims, however, were already into two or three weeks of experiencing the symptoms before they sought medical help, he said.
He advised that anyone experiencing such for more than three days should already consult the doctor.
In some cases, the symptoms might go away for a day or two, when the bacteria are still breeding, only to return when much of the body have been already infected.
Symptoms in the advance stage include reddening of the eyes, yellowing of the skin and difficulty in breathing and in urinating, he said.
These late signs indicate that the liver, the lungs and the kidneys, have already been compromised, he explained.
As a preventive measure, Carbonell advised people living in frequently flooded areas to take some dose of doxycycline.
The prophylactic medicine is given free in areas that are considered high-risk and is available at the city health office, the barangays and the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, he said.
Cases of leptospirosis in this city as of last month totaled 25, five more than what was recorded from January to August last year.
Carbonell attributed the increase to the widespread and prolonged flooding in the city due to southwest monsoon, typhoons and high tide last month.
All the fatalities were male and had been employed or had worked in wet environments. The victims were drivers, fishpond caretakers and construction workers, according to Carbonell.
Meanwhile, Dr. George P. Calugay, head of Department of Health-Pangasinan said that the province has already recorded 98 cases from January to August which is the highest in Region 1. (ANL/ARRF-PIA 1 Pangasinan)